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Bomb blast at Pakistani mosque kills two

world Updated: Oct 25, 2010 08:22 IST

AFP
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A bomb attack at a mosque in Pakistan's city of Peshawar killed two people and wounded 11 others as worshippers filed out after the main Friday Muslim prayers, officials said.

The planted bomb detonated in a congested neighbourhood on the western outskirts of the city on the Muslim day of rest.

The northwestern city, which neighbours the wild tribal belt on the Afghan border, has been hard hit by attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Taliban opposed to the government's alliance with the United States.

"A bomb blast took place at a mosque in the Pushta Khara area," police official Mohammad Karim Khan told AFP, referring to a congested neighbourhood in the city.

"According to initial reports two people were killed and 11 others were injured," he said.

Hospital officials confirmed the casualties and police said the attack was caused by an improvised-explosive device (IED).

"It was an IED," police official Mohammad Naeem told AFP.

Around 3,740 people have been killed in suicide attacks and bomb explosions, blamed on homegrown Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks, since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad three years ago.

There has been a relative lull in violence since the country was hit by catastrophic floods in late July that affected more than 20 million people and an area roughly the size of England in the country's worst natural disaster.

Earlier on Friday, a roadside bomb attack killed six Pakistani soldiers in the tribal district of Orakzai, which is close to Peshawar. That was the third deadly attack on paramilitary troops patrolling the tribal belt this week.

Washington has branded the tribal belt a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and wants Pakistan to do more to fight insurgents streaming across its border into Afghanistan, pressing its ally on the issue during talks this week.

Pakistan flatly denies US suggestions it is not doing enough to tackle Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants who have carved out strongholds in the northwest and last year inched closer towards the capital Islamabad.

According to Pakistani military statistics, 2,421 army and paramilitary soldiers were killed and 7,195 wounded in fighting with Islamist militants from 2002 until April this year.

The United States is planning a public show of support for Pakistan on Friday, including potential new military aid -- a key issue for the powerful army -- as it tries to strike a balance with its growing ties to India.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead a third and final day of a "strategic dialogue" with Pakistan, an initiative by President Barack Obama's administration to demonstrate long-term assistance.

Pakistan won US praise after it mounted offensives against homegrown Taliban extremists last year.

But a White House report to Congress earlier this month stated bluntly that Pakistan has not confronted Afghanistan's Taliban, in what experts see as a bid by Islamabad to preserve influence on its northwestern neighbour.

Pakistani officials have been angered by reports of mounting US pressure on the military to launch an offensive against militants fighting American troops in Afghanistan but who are based in North Waziristan, part of the tribal belt.

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