A suicide blast outside the emergency ward of a hospital crowded with Shi’ite Muslim mourners in Pakistan’s volatile northwest killed at least 27 people, including two police. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast in Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP. A local Shi’ite leader shot earlier in the day had just died from his wounds when the blast went off. The attack, the latest in a wave of sectarian violence in the region, occurred a day after Pervez Musharraf stepped down as Pakistan’s president. Maulvi Umar, spokesman for Pakistan’s Taliban movement, claimed responsibility in an interview with the AP, but denied the mourners were the target, saying “This is not a sectarian attack.”
Security forces also killed 11 suspected militants and five civilians in the Bajaur tribal area Aug. 19. On Aug. 12, a bombing in the main northwest city of Peshawar destroyed a military transport truck and killed up to 14. The Taliban said they staged it in response to recent military offensives. (AP, Reuters, Aug. 19; Pakistan Daily Times, Aug. 13)
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