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Bombers Strike in Pakistan Capital, Northwest


Two separate attacks in Pakistan, including a suicide bombing inside the main police complex in Islamabad, have killed at least 10 people and wounded many others. The violence comes as top army officials briefed the national parliament behind closed doors for a second day on how to tackle growing threat of terrorism and extremism in the country. Ayaz Gul has filed the story from Islamabad.

Pakistani police say that the deaths occurred when a remote-controlled bomb struck a police vehicle carrying suspected criminals in the northwestern district of Dir, a region infested with pro-Taliban militants. Several policemen are said to be among those killed while children on a nearby school bus were also reported to be among the victims.

The blast occurred hours after a suicide bomber struck police headquarters in the Pakistani capital city, wounding several policemen. Officials say they have found body parts of the suspected bomber and have launched an investigation.

The attack in Islamabad happened two weeks after a powerful suicide bombing targeted the city's Marriott Hotel, killing at least 55 people, including several foreigners.

Thursday's violence happened as top military officials briefed Pakistan's nearly eight-month-old parliament for a second day on the country's internal security situation. Media is not allowed to cover the classified joint session of both the houses of parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly.

Many in Pakistan blame the country's alliance with the United States for the increased violence. Opposition parties are demanding the government review this policy.

"The security situation in the country is not satisfactory and the participation of Pakistan in the global war on terror has increased terrorism as well as insecurity in the country," said Khursheed Ahmed, an opposition member of the Senate. "Because of that the parliament wants to review and revisit the entire policy."

Officials say that suicide attacks in Pakistan have killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, since July 2007.

While authorities maintain that suicide bombers are difficult to check, critics like former interior secretary Tasneem Noorani says Pakistani security agencies need to strengthen their intelligence network to pre-empt suicide bombings.

"There are obviously groups they are getting their money and their resources and their material from somewhere," said Noorani. "It's not always possible to catch these people while they are on the roads and near their targets, but it's possible to break them or counter them at the source.

Pakistani leaders believe that suicide bombings are a reaction to military operations they are conducting to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaida militants from the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. But Western intelligence officials say that the extremists in recent years have established their strongholds in the border areas. They blame "elements" in the Pakistani intelligence agencies for supporting these militants who also launch cross-border attacks on U.S-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

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