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France Honors Victims of Pakistan Suicide Bombing - 2002-05-13

France has held an emotional funeral for the 11 victims of a suicide bombing last week in Karachi, Pakistan. At the ceremony in the Normandy town of Cherbourg, French President Jacques Chirac vowed those responsible will be caught and punished. The town of Cherbourg was shuttered Monday, with many shops and schools closed, to mourn the 11 French naval construction workers who died in Pakistan last week. Residents held a moment of silence for the victims.

Many of the workers come from the seaside town, which is also the home of France's naval construction department. The crew died when their bus exploded in Karachi last week. The suicide bombing killed a total of 14 people, including the bomber. Twenty-three other wounded French workers were flown back to France last Thursday.

During the funeral ceremony, French President Jacques Chirac placed the Legion of Honor, the country's highest decoration, on each coffins, which were draped with red-white-and-blue French flags. In a speech, Mr. Chirac promised the fight against terrorism will continue.

The French president said the battle is also about protecting democracy and liberty. Neither France, nor the United States and its allies, he vowed, will give up.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the Karachi bombing. But authorities suspect a terrorist group, possibly one linked to the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden, was behind the attack.

About 400 Islamic militants have been arrested since the bombing, and on Saturday, Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, created an anti-terrorism task force.