Pakistan government set on stopping bombers-ZardariJuly 7th, 2008 - 1:01 pm ICT by ANI
Islamabad, July 7 (Reuters): The leader of Pakistan’s ruling party said on Monday the people behind a suicide bomb attack on police that killed 15 people the previous day were trying to create chaos and his government would do everything to stop them.
All but two of those killed in Sunday’s attack were policemen, who had been guarding Islamists marking the anniversary of an army commando raid on Islamabad’s Red Mosque.
The attack will raise questions about the new government’s policy of trying to end militant violence through negotiations and increase concern about prospects for the country, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally making a transition to civilian rule.
The government is led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi on Dec. 27.
Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who took over as leader of the party after his wife’s murder, said in a statement Sunday’s attack was despicable and must be rejected and condemned by all.
“Pakistan People’s Party realises the grave threat that such terrorist activities pose to the country and the PPP government will do everything possible to check the activities of such elements and those responsible will be brought to justice,” he said.
The government’s top Interior Ministry official, Rehman Malik, said on Sunday eight people had been killed but city police chief, Asghar Raza Gardezi, said on Monday 15 people had died, 13 of them policemen.
Authorities were examining the head of the suspected bomber, though Gardezi said it was too early to draw any conclusions and no suspects had been detained.
The blast happened several hundred metres (yards) from city-centre Red Mosque mosque, shortly after a tightly guarded meeting of Islamists there had ended.
Several thousand Islamists, including members of banned groups, had listened to fiery speeches at the meeting to mark the first anniversary of the army raid on the complex.
More than 100 people were killed when commandos stormed the Red Mosque complex, which included a madrasa or Islamic seminary, on July 10 last year, after a week-long siege that began when gunmen from the mosque clashed with police outside.
A couple of weeks after the siege ended, 13 people, most of them policemen, were killed in a suicide bombing similar to Sunday’s attack.
President Pervez Musharraf, whose power has withered since his allies were defeated in a February election and who has been facing calls to step down, said on Friday more radical mosques would emerge if extremism and militancy were not tackled.
The former army chief ruled out resigning, saying he was needed to help politicians avoid an economic meltdown and tackle the militant threat.
The attack had added to worry among stock investors whose confidence had already been sapped by political squabbling, insecurity and economic problems, including inflation running at more than 20 percent.
Stocks have been sliding and the rupee set a new low against the dollar last week.
“Already there’s no interest in the market. If anything, it may have added to the negative sentiment,” said Shuja Rizvi, director of broking operations at Capital One Equities Ltd.
The Karachi Stock Exchange 100-share index was 0.6 percent lower in early trade. (Reuters)
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