Authorities in Pakistan say a suicide bomber has killed at least 15
people and injured more than 22 others in a central part of the country's
capital city. Most of the victims were policemen. Ayaz Gul reports
The suicide bomber struck a group of policemen
who were guarding a big meeting of Islamic activists in the center of
the Pakistani capital.
The religious gathering was marking the
one-year anniversary of a military crackdown on Islamabad's radical Red
Mosque, just few hundred meters away.
Witnesses say most of the deaths happened instantly and body parts, pools of blood as well as police caps littered the scene.
top official at the federal Interior Ministry, Kamal Shah, says the
attack is being investigated, but he dismissed criticism poor security
arrangements led to the deadly bombing
"An individual coming
and exploding himself, blowing up himself is difficult to prevent,"
said Kamal Shah. "This has happened in other countries of the world.
It is not [happening] only in Pakistan."
Speaking at a ceremony
in the southern city of Karachi hours after the blast, President Pervez
Musharraf condemned it as a terrorist act.
"I condemn that with
all my force and I must say that this nation has to show resolve to
fight such extremism and terrorism and defeat it," said Pervez
Doctors have described conditions of some of those wounded in the attack as critical, saying the death toll could go up.
suicide bombing occurred just after several-thousand participants of
the religious gathering started dispersing. The crowed had gathered to
condemn the army raid on the Red Mosque complex that killed more than
100 people on July 10 last year.
Speakers at the meeting
criticized President Pervez Musharraf for ordering the assault under
pressure from the United States. The protesters chanted anti-Musharraf
and anti-American slogans.
Pro-Taliban militants supportive of
the radical mosque unleashed a wave of deadly suicide bombings across
Pakistan in the past year to avenge the operation. Most of the victims
of the violence have been security personnel.
against the mosque was launched after its clerics and religious
students ignored official warnings to end their violent campaign to
enforce Taliban-style rule in parts of the Pakistani capital. The
extremists kidnapped women they accused of prostitution, including some
Chinese nationals, and warned traders against running music and video