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Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 6 in Pakistan


A suicide bomber in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi has rammed his motorcycle into a bus carrying military personnel, killing at least 6 people and wounding at least 25 others. VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Islamabad.

Pakistani security officials say the suicide bomber targeted a minibus carrying military personnel on a road running through a bazaar near the offices of the army's National Logistics Cell.

The explosion blew off the top of the bus, which was carrying medical and security employees. Several other vehicles were badly damaged.

Police and soldiers cordoned off the area and erected a screen around the site.

In recent months there have been several suicide bombings in Rawalpindi, a city where the army has its headquarters, about 12 kilometers from the capital, Islamabad.

Last December, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed and about 20 others died in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi. Prior to that, suicide bombings against employees of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and an army checkpoint killed dozens of people.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks, but the government has blamed Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants, who pose a growing security threat across Pakistan.

Violence has intensified in recent months, with the army battling militants near the border with Afghanistan and suicide bombings sowing fear in towns and cities.

The attacks are raising concerns about security as Pakistan prepares for parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for February 18.

Rawalpindi is in Punjab province and a top security official in Punjab is warning authorities have received information that a number of suicide bombers have entered the area and more attacks are expected soon.

Speaking to Dawn Television, Khusro Pervaiz Khan said there are several targets, including senior politicians.

"One is high profile political leaders is one of the targets in southern Punjab and then in Lahore again they will be targeting the security forces, including the police," said Khan.

Punjab is home to about half of Pakistan's population of 160 million people and voters there elect about 50 percent of the members of the lower house of parliament.

Pakistani analysts say the political party that wins in Punjab will likely win the election.

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