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Pakistan to continue war on terror despite suicide attack that killed 50, says minister

Pakistan to continue war on terror despite suicide attack that killed 50, says minister

The Pakistani government said Sunday it would push ahead with its fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants and work to ensure a peaceful election campaign after a suicide attack at a mosque near the Afghan border killed at least 50 people.
Former Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, the apparent target of Friday's bombing, escaped unhurt. Sherpao, who was heavily involved in operations aimed at eliminating al-Qaida and the Taliban, survived a similar attack eight months ago.
Information Minister Nisar Memon said Sunday the latest attack, which hit during prayers for the Muslim holiday of Islamic Eid al-Adha, was a "shameful act" that would not stop this Islamic nation from persisting in its fight against terror groups.
"Pakistan is a front-line state in the war on terror. Such attacks cannot deter our resolve," he told state-run Pakistan Television.
Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, and suspicion for the mosque attack fell on pro-Taliban or al-Qaida militants active in northwest Pakistan _ near the Afghan border _ where the bombing occurred.
The blast also shook up the campaign for Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, but the country's two main opposition leaders addressed supporters Sunday, despite fears of violence.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif traveled to the southern city of Karachi, weeks after returning from Saudi Arabia where he had been exiled by President Pervez Musharraf, who ousted Sharif's government in a 1999 coup.
Addressing supporters from his Pakistan Muslim League-N party at the mausoleum of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, Nawaz told supporters a vote for his party would help oust Musharraf, who recently declared emergency rule for six weeks.
"We will ensure the rule of law," Sharif said. "I promise that I will strive to put Pakistan back on the path of democracy, because we need the rule of law, not a dictator."
Also Sunday, another former premier, Benazir Bhutto, addressed thousands of supporters from her Pakistan People's Party in her home town of Larkana in the southern Sindh province.
Memon said Pakistan would hold the vote as scheduled, and the government would take all possible measures to ensure the safety of candidates across the country.
Musharraf has asked the security agencies to find those behind Friday's bomb attack on Sherpao, who is a candidate in the election.
Police have collected pieces of clothing, shoes, prayer mats and two severed legs of a man from the scene, and investigators were examining them for clues to identify the bomber, an official involved in the probe said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Security forces also said they arrested seven students from a nearby Islamic school. The bomber was in a row of worshippers when he detonated the explosive, authorities said.
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Associated Press Writer Ashraf Khan contributed for this report from Larkana.


Updated : 2021-04-18 10:35 GMT+08:00