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Death Toll Rises to 27 in Pakistan Bombing


Police in northwest Pakistan continue to dig through wreckage from Friday's car bomb blast in a Shiite quarter of Peshawar. At least 27 people have been killed and scores more wounded in the attack.

The explosion Friday evening occurred in a densely populated area of Peshawar, where narrow alleys and crowds of onlookers prevented rescue workers from quickly reaching victims.

Peshawar's mayor, Hajji Ghulam Ali, tells VOA the rescue work has been difficult.

He says district and provincial officials, along with help from the public, have now controlled the situation and searched through much of the debris.

The attack occurred near a Shiite shrine and a famous market known as "Storytellers Bazaar," long known as a place where travelers and merchants exchange news.

The mayor says investigators are still working to determine who was behind the attack.

Also Friday, residents in Taliban-dominated North Waziristan tribal agency said a suspected U.S. airstrike killed at least three people in a home near the town Mir Ali. U.S. drones have increased strikes against suspected Taliban and al Qaida militants in Pakistan's tribal regions in recent months, but officials do not comment on the reported action.

Following the blast in Peshawar, a local resident complained about the ongoing violence and appealed to residents to stand together for peace.

Mohammad Ali says Pakistan's administration cannot bring peace. He says the people should come out onto the streets and face the attackers and then the bombers will run away.

Pakistan's civilian government is under enormous pressure, both from a raging Taliban insurgency along its western border and from the United States and India to crack down on groups suspected of involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

Top U.S. officials have visited the country in recent days to try to defuse tensions with India. On Saturday, U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham met with top Pakistani leaders.

Pakistani officials have pledged to do all they can to find the Mumbai perpetrators, but they are also insisting that any Pakistani suspects will be tried in Pakistani courts - instead of being handed over to India.

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