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Pakistan opens probe into bombing at police officer's funeral that killed 40

Pakistan opens probe into bombing at police officer's funeral that killed 40

Police searched for clues Saturday after a suicide attack at a police officer's funeral killed more than 40 people in volatile northwestern Pakistan where troops are fighting pro-Taliban militants.
Another suicide bombing Saturday killed one person and wounded 19 people in the region, officials said.
More than 60 people were also hurt Friday night when a bomber blew himself up as some 800 mourners gathered for the funeral of Javed Iqbal, a senior police officer who was killed in a roadside bombing earlier in the day.
Iqbal's 16-year-old son, Ghazan, was among the dead.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Syed Akhtar Ali Shah said an investigation has started. He said although no one has claimed responsibility, police were confident of arresting those who orchestrated the suicide attack in Mingora, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) from Peshawar in the Swat Valley.
District police chief Arshad Majid said 40 bodies were accounted for, but the toll was expected to rise after forensic officials reconstruct body parts.
The suicide bombing was the bloodiest attack in the Swat Valley since militant followers of a pro-Taliban cleric grabbed control of large parts of the scenic corner of Pakistan's restive northwest. President Pervez Musharraf _ an ally of Washington in its war on terror _ sent thousands of troops to Swat in November but attacks have persisted.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber struck a vehicle carrying security forces in the northwestern tribal region of Bajur, killing one civilian and wounding 19 people, mostly security personnel, said Iqbal Khatak, a government official.
He said the severed head of the attacker, who was on foot, was found at the scene. All the victims were taken to a hospital where three of them were in critical condition, he said.
Friday's suicide attack was the most serious since the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections in which Musharraf's allied party was soundly defeated, plunging his political future into uncertainty.
Shahbuddin, an assistant inspector of police, said the explosion occurred just as pallbearers _ including Iqbal's teenage son _ lifted the coffin to carry it toward the grave. Many police officers were at the funeral.
"Because it was dark, the suicide bomber was able to mingle among the people easily," said Shahbuddin, who uses only one name.
"As the coffin was lifted I moved toward the gate but suddenly a big explosion took place, which dashed me against the gate ... It was hell. Everybody was crying for help," Shahbuddin, who was slightly wounded, told The Associated Press.
The pro-Taliban uprising in Swat reflects the government's loss of control of swaths of the conservative northwest.
Musharraf has faced calls to resign since his Muslim League-Q party was soundly defeated in the parliamentary elections. He has refused to step down.
The party of Benazir Bhutto _ the opposition leader assassinated on Dec. 27 _ was the biggest winner in the election, followed by the group led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Leaders of the two parties hope to form a coalition that would give them the two-thirds majority needed to impeach Musharraf or curtail his powers through constitutional amendments.
Musharraf came to power in a 1999 coup that ousted Sharif. Although Pakistanis initially welcomed Musharraf, he has become increasingly unpopular amid accusations he has trampled on democracy and the judiciary.
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Associated Press Writer Habibullah Khan contributed to this story from Bajur.


Updated : 2021-03-05 16:00 GMT+08:00