50 killed in Pakistan suicide attack

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Peshawar, Dec 21 (UNI) At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a suicide attack in Charsadda town of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) today, police and provincial officials said.

The bomber blew himself up in the midst of Eid-ul-Azha prayers in a mosque, located inside the residential complex of former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, who escaped unhurt.

''The bomber was standing in the second row of the faithful and blew himself up in the midst of the prayers,'' a local police official Khalid Jan told UNI.

A state of emergency has been declared in the town with provincial health minister Syed Kamal Shah fearing the death toll may further rise.

This was the fourth suicide attack since last Friday and the third following lifting of the state of emergency by President Pervez Musharraf on December 15.

Federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah also confirmed that it was a suicide attack, apparently targeting Sherpao, who has been Musharraf's close aide and staunch supporter of his anti-terror policy.

Police and rescue teams rushed to the blast site and began shifting bodies and injured to hospitals in Charsadda and Peshawar.

According to eyewitnesses, it was a horrible scene to see people lying in a pool of blood, small pieces of flesh and blood-stained belongings of the faithfuls.

More than 700 people have been killed this year in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions in Pakistan, a close ally of the United States in the ongoing war on terror.

Mr Musharraf had cited growing Islamic militancy as one of the main reasons while imposing the state of emergency in the country on November 3.

However, he claimed a considerable improvement in the situation as he lifted emergency on December 15 almost 17 days after doffing military uniform and assuming office of a civilian president.


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