Pakistani leaders condemn suicide blast in northwest

May 19th, 2008 - 8:07 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, May 19 (Xinhua) Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani have condemned the suicide blast Sunday that killed 13 people, including four security personnel, official APP news agency said. The explosion occurred when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a military-run bakery near the Punjab Regimental Centre in Mardan district of North West Frontier Province (NWFP). More than 20 people were also injured in the blast, according to private Geo TV.

Condemning the incident, Musharraf said that the blast was a “dastardly act of terrorism” and the government was committed to rooting out this menace from the country.

“Such acts of terrorism will not weaken Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism,” said Gillani in a message from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he is attending the World Economic Forum.

Both the leaders expressed their heartfelt sympathies to the victims of blast and directed the authorities to provide best medical care to the injured.

According to the police, the blast also destroyed several shops at the market at the army area in the center of Mardan, some 60 km north of Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP.

Emergency was declared in the hospitals and the people were asked to donate blood.

The province has seen dozens of deadly suicide attacks by pro-Taliban militants entrenched in the neighbouring tribal region that borders Afghanistan.

In March, the new government offered peace talks to the militants that resulted in a sharp decline in the militants’ attacks. The two sides are also carrying out a prisoner swap ahead of an expected formal peace deal.

Under the planned peace accord, Pakistan will partially pull out its troops from the tribal belt, which is a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

Asfand Yar Wali, the head of Awami National Party, which leads the provincial government in NWFP and is directly engaged in peace negotiations with rebels, also condemned the attack. “The attack is aimed at disrupting the peace process,” he said.

It is the second blast in Mardan in less than a month. On April 26, at least three people were killed and over 35 injured in a powerful blast near a police station in the city.

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