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Bombing Greets Secretary Clinton in Pakistan
Pakistan Daily Times:
PESHAWAR: A remote-controlled car bomb killed at least 105 people – including women and children – and injured around 200 others at the provincial capital’s Meena Bazaar on Wednesday, said officials, hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan to bolster the two countries’ alliance against Taliban and Al Qaeda.
“We have received 92 bodies and some parts of bodies and 200 injured people – including 70 women and children,” said Haider Afridi, chief executive of the Lady Reading Hospital. He said around 25 people – mostly women – were in critical condition, while only 25 bodies had so far been identified.
“Nineteen of the dead are women and 11 are children. All the dead are civilians,” Dr Zafar Iqbal told the AFP news agency as staff declared an emergency and called for blood donations.
NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain, however, said, “More than 80 people were killed ... around 200, mostly women and children, were injured in the car bomb blast.”
Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik told reporters that 150 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the remote-controlled blast. He said that some people were still trapped under the rubble.
Addressing reporters at the Lady Reading Hospital, Iftikhar linked the Meena Bazaar blast with the ongoing military operation in South Waziristan against the Taliban, saying, “foreign terrorists – including Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks – stationed in Waziristan are carrying out attacks in Pashtun areas”.
In a message to foreign and local Taliban, the minister said, “We (civilians and the army) have won the war in Malakand division ... the fight against terrorism will continue and we will eliminate terrorists even if we have to pay with our lives.”
Although nobody claimed responsibility, suspicion immediately fell on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- The deadliest bombing in Pakistan in two years quickly overshadowed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's first official visit here Wednesday, drawing attention away from her goal of promoting a broad U.S.-Pakistan relationship based on more than the shared fight against terrorism.
In a dinner toast to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Clinton tried to address the military's battle against Taliban insurgents as well as the U.S. development assistance she came here to highlight. "Those who your brave soldiers are fighting against as we meet here tonight are destroyers, not builders," she told guests at a gathering Zardari hosted in her honor at the presidential palace.
Just a few hours earlier, at least 100 people were killed and 200 were injured when a powerful car bomb tore through a crowded market in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Hospital officials said two-thirds of the dead were women and children.
News of the attack reached the capital just after 2 p.m., as Clinton was discussing a $125 million energy aid package with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. At a news conference immediately afterward, Clinton said: "I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan's alone. . . . These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well."
The energy assistance program is aimed at rebuilding Pakistan's electricity-production capacity, beginning with repairs and upgrades to local power stations. Clinton's three-day visit is geared toward public appearances, with the goal of quelling rising anti-Americanism among the public and assuring the Pakistani political opposition and military that the Obama administration seeks a full partnership with the country.
Zardari's administration has been placed on the defensive in recent weeks by accusations from domestic critics that his government is an American puppet. The criticism has been fueled by conditions that Congress placed on a multibillion-dollar aid package, which anti-Zardari forces in Pakistan say are designed to undermine the nation's sovereignty.