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Suicide Bomber Attacks Pakistan's Naval War College


A suicide bomb attack on one of Pakistan's premier military academies has killed at least five people and wounded 19 others. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad the bombing marks the fifth suicide blast in the last eight days - a string of attacks that has killed nearly 100 people across the country.

Local police said the midday explosion on the Naval War College campus in Lahore occurred in a parking lot outside one of the academic buildings, where Pakistani and foreign officers attend classes.

Witnesses reported hearing several explosions. Lahore police chief Malik Iqbal told reporters that two bombers attacked a service gate at the back of the building.

He said one detonated a blast at the gate and then the second went inside. He said when the bomber was stopped by security forces he detonated his bomb. He said a few officers in a nearby classroom were injured.

Television footage showed groups of naval officers gathered near the scene of the attack, helping some of the wounded.

Since last Monday, suicide bombers have carried out attacks on Pakistan's army and police forces - as well as a meeting of tribal leaders working against pro-Taliban militants near the Afghan border.

During a news conference in Islamabad, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema appealed for public support in the military's counterterrorism efforts.

"While the security machinery is fully geared up to meet any threat, we would appeal to all citizens to continue wholehearted support and cooperation with the government's efforts to defeat terrorism and to ensure a smooth and orderly transfer of power to the elected representatives," Cheema said.

How Pakistan's newly elected lawmakers will deal with the country's religious extremist insurgency is still an open question. Some lawmakers have said they favor dialogue and diplomacy over President Musharraf's strategy that relies mainly on military operations.

In Rawalpindi on Tuesday, top U.S. military officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, met with President Pervez Musharraf and Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani. Pakistan's official news agency said Admiral Mullen and Mr. Musharraf discussed the war against terrorism.

A Pakistani military statement said the American admiral spoke to General Kayani about regional security. The trip is Admiral Mullen's second to Pakistan within the past month.

A new U.S. plan calls for sending 22 military trainers to Pakistan starting in June to teach counterinsurgency techniques to army officers.

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