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Sunday, 15 May 2011

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A wave of revenge strikes

The Pakistani Taliban carried out deadly bombings that killed at least 80 people, calling it the 'first revenge' for the death of Osama bin Laden and threatening bigger attacks to come. Around 140 people were wounded in this year's deadliest attack in Pakistan where the government is deep in crisis over the killing of the al-Qaeda chief by special US forces on May 2. The blasts destroyed around 20 shops and 12 vehicles.

Two bombs were detonated in Shabqadar in north-western Pakistan as newly trained paramilitary cadets were boarding buses for a 10-day leave after a training course.Friday's revenge attack, the deadliest blast in Pakistan this year, took place in Charsadda district, near the border with Afghanistan, about 30 kilometres north of Peshawar, where militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda have repeatedly attacked government forces. The lone bomber, with eight to 10 kilograms of explosives strapped to his body, drove into the crowd of Frontier Constabulary cadets, the Pakistan police said.

"The suicide bomber came on a motorcycle and blew himself up among Frontier Constabulary personnel," Charsadda District Police officer Nisar Khan Marwat said. "The bomb disposal squad told me the second bomb was planted. At least 80 people have been killed."

Ahmad Ali, a paramilitary policeman, was sitting in a van, waiting for colleagues when the bombs exploded. "We were in plain clothes and we were happy we were going to see our families," he told reporters. "I heard someone shouting 'Allahu Akbar' [God is greatest] and then I heard a huge blast. I was hit by something in my shoulder. In the meantime, I heard another blast and jumped out of the van. I felt that I was injured and bleeding."The town is close to Mohmand, which is in the lawless tribal belt that Washington has branded the headquarters of al-Qaeda and where CIA drones carry out missile strikes on Taliban and other Islamist militant commanders.

The Pakistani government condemned the attack, as did Britain, pledging support for Islamabad in the fight against violent extremism.

The attack will further demoralise Pakistan's security forces, still battered after the US found bin Laden first, living in relative comfort in a garrison town close to the capital.

In an interview with Time magazine, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani acknowledged that America's strike on bin Laden had eroded what little trust existed between the countries' intelligence agencies.

 

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