Pakistan: Islamist blames US for suicide bombing

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — An Islamist politician whose party lost several members in a suicide attack blamed Pakistan's alliance with the U.S. for the violence and urged Islamabad on Tuesday to break ranks in the war on terror.

The comments showed the depth of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, whose support Washington considers key to stabilizing neighboring Afghanistan. In the past three days, attacks in Pakistan have killed more than 70 people in a new wave of violence.

A remote controlled bomb Tuesday hit an army convoy as it traveled in the Hangu district close to the Afghan border, killing three Pakistani soldiers and a civilian, said police official Farid Khan. The convoy was transporting the body of a soldier killed Monday in a suicide bombing in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

In that attack, a suicide bomber hit a rally of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, apparently targeting police watching over the gathering of the pro-Taliban group. Many of the 24 dead and 45 wounded were party loyalists, while two were officers, police official Khan Abbas said Tuesday.

Although authorities blamed the Taliban in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Islamist party's leaders have declined to do so, instead alleging the CIA or Indian intelligence were behind it.

"It is because we have brought America's war to our own country," Sirajul Haq, a provincial party leader, said Tuesday in Peshawar after attending funerals for some of the victims. "Still, there is time to end this alliance with America" to avoid more bloodshed.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but that is not unusual in cases where many ordinary Pakistanis die.

Earlier Monday, a bomb exploded outside a school run by a police welfare foundation, killing a young boy and wounding 10 people. And over the weekend, multiple bombs in the Kohat region elsewhere in the northwest killed nearly 50 people.

Taliban and al-Qaida militants based in the Afghan border region — who are fighting Pakistani police and the army — have carried out hundreds of attacks over the last three years. They have frequently targeted security forces, government officials and their supporters or family members in mosques, schools and markets, showing no concern for civilian casualties.

Peshawar, the capital of the northwest region, has been one of the hardest-hit cities because it lies close to the border area.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's army announced compensation of 20 million rupees (US$237,897) for the families of civilians killed in an airstrike a week ago in the northwest.

The army will also bear all medical expenses of civilians wounded in the raid, which intended to target militants.

The army has not announced how many people were killed in the airstrike, but local officials and witnesses said more than 60 died. Pakistan's army chief has apologized for the deaths.


Associated Press writer Hussain Afzal in Parachinar contributed to this report