Suicide bomber in NW Pakistan kills 15 - military

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 1 (Reuters) A suicide bomber wearing a woman's burqa set off explosives in the northwestern Pakistani town of Bannu on Monday killing up to 15 people, including four policemen, security officials said.

The blast was the lastest in a wave of attacks, most in the northwest of the country near the border with Afghanistan, blamed on Islamist militants based in tribal areas on the Afghan border.

Military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said 11 civilians and four policemen had been killed in the suicide blast in the town, which is in North West Frontier Province.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said 11 people -- four of them policemen -- had been killed.

''A burqa-clad bomber -- either it was a woman or a man in a burqa -- set off explosives when police approached,'' said ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.

A police official said the blast went off near a bus stand and 19 people were also wounded.

Hundreds of people have been killed in militant attacks since July, when a pact with militants in one border area collapsed and commandos stormed a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad.

The surge of violence comes as army chief and president Pervez Musharraf is preparing to try to win another term in an October 6 presidential election.

Many Pakistanis disapprove of Musharraf's staunch support for the US-led war on terrorism, which they blame for stirring up militant violence in the ethnic Pashtun areas along the Afghan border.


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