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October 13, 2009

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41 more die in suicide attack as Pakistan erupts in violence

A SUICIDE car bombing targeting Pakistani troops killed 41 people yesterday, the fourth grisly militant attack in just over a week, as the Taliban pledged to mobilize fighters across the country for more strikes.
The Taliban also claimed responsibility for the 22-hour weekend attack on the nation's heavily fortified army headquarters, saying a Punjabi cell carried out the raid.
The claim that a Punjabi faction of the Pakistani Taliban was behind that strike is a sign the insurgents have forged links with militants outside their main strongholds in Pashtun areas close to the Afghan border, increasing their potency.
The army, however, maintained it was launched from South Waziristan - where the military is preparing for what will likely be a long and bloody offensive against the major base of the Taliban along the frontier.
In advance of that offensive, the militants have launched a wave of attacks.
In the latest strike, a suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives near an army vehicle in a market in the northwest Shangla district, provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said. The attack killed 41, including six security officers, and wounded 45 other people, he said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
President Asif Ali Zardari said the attacks would not undermine the government's resolve to eliminate the insurgent groups.
Shangla lies east of Swat, which has been the focus of an intense military operation against the Taliban. The army says it has largely cleared the valley of the insurgents, but the bombing demonstrated their continuing ability to mount deadly attacks there.
The recent string of bloody attacks began last week when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a heavily guarded United Nations aid agency in the heart of the capital, Islamabad, killing five staffers. On Friday, a suspected militant detonated an explosives-laden car in the middle of a busy market in Peshawar, killing 53 people.
Those attacks were followed by the raid on army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Saturday that killed nine militants and 14 others.


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