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Suicide bomb blast kills 43 in Pakistan
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 03 - 09 - 2010

QUETTA, Pakistan - A suicide bomber struck a rally in the Pakistani city of Quetta Friday, killing up to 43 people in the second major attack this week, piling pressure on a government struggling with a flood crisis.
The attack on the Shi'ite rally expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people came as the United States said the devastating floods are likely to delay army offensives against Taliban insurgents.
"Unfortunately the flooding in Pakistan is probably going to delay any operations by the Pakistani army in North Waziristan for some period of time," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Afghanistan where he is visiting US troops.
More than 100 people were wounded in the Quetta attack, which like triple bombings at a Shi'ite procession in the city of Lahore this week, bore the hallmarks of the Taliban who often attack religious minorities to destabilize the government.
"There are 24 dead in the Combined Military Hospital and the remaining are in two other hospitals," said a hospital official in Quetta, where dozens of dead and wounded lay in pools of blood after the blast that also engulfed vehicles in flames.
Earlier, the al Qaeda-linked Taliban took responsibility for Wednesday's bombings in Lahore, further challenging the civilian government struggling to cope a month after devastating floods.
Aside from its battles against homegrown Taliban, Pakistan is under intense American pressure to tackle Afghan Taliban fighters who cross the border in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas to attack US-led NATO troops.
The United States has stepped up missile strikes by pilotless drone aircraft against militant targets in Pakistan's Pashtun tribal lands since the start of 2010. Friday, a US drone fired missiles into a militant hideout in North Waziristan tribal region, killing five militants, intelligence officials said.
Pakistan has said the army would decide when to carry out a full-fledged assault in North Waziristan, where Washington says anti-American militants enjoy safe havens, at the time it considers appropriate.
The Lahore blasts, which killed 33 people, were the first major attack since flood waters tore through the country. "It's revenge for the killings of innocent Sunnis," a spokesman for Qari Hussain Mehsud, mentor of the Taliban's suicide bombers, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
In another attack in the northwest, a suicide bomber killed one person outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect, who consider themselves Muslims but whom Pakistan declares non-Muslims.


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