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Pakistan bomber warns US spies too

The suicide bomber who killed 25 people in a hotel in Peshawar warned American spies of the same fate.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent, Islamabad
UPDATED ON MAY 16, 2007 08:46 PM IST

A suicide bomber who killed 25 people in an attack on a crowded hotel in Pakistan left a grisly warning taped to his leg: "Those who spy for Americans will meet the same fate."

"The message in Pashto language appeared to be written with a black marker," Malik Zafar Azam, law minister in Pakistan's volatile North West Frontier Province (NWFP), told media on Wednesday.

Azam said he was the first government official to reach the Marhaba hotel in the centre of Peshawar after Tuesday's blast -- which also wounded 32 people and saw the severed legs of the bomber himself.

Police said the warning was taped to the man's leg.

"The suicide bomber was an old man. We are carrying out forensic and related tests," a senior police investigator said.

The blast left no crater, and aside from the tell-tale way in which the bomber's body had blown apart, police also found nuts and bolts, sometimes packed into suicide bomb vests to make the explosion more deadly.

The hotel was owned and frequented by Afghans.

Government officials have dampened speculation the suicide attack could have been retaliation against collaborators after US-led forces killed Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's top military commander in southern Afghanistan, on Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans live in Peshawar and the surrounding area, and the city has been a staging post for Jihadi groups sympathetic to Al -Qaeda.

To escape the conflict raging in their homeland in the past three decades, many Afghans flocked through the Khyber Pass to Peshawar, Afghanistan's winter capital in a bygone era.

In recent years, Peshawar has suffered an overspill of violence from tribal regions on the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistan military has been fighting Al Qaeda militants there, while seeking to contain pro-Taliban tribesmen.

A rash of bomb blasts has hit the city and areas nearby since late last year, as militants angry with President Pervez Musharraf's alliance with the United States sought to destabilise the government by creating insecurity.

A little over two weeks ago, another suicide bomber killed 26 people in an attack that appeared to target the country's interior minister while he was visiting Charsadda, a town 20 km (12 miles) northeast of Peshawar.

"It is too early to say who was behind the latest attack, but the pattern was similar to one on the interior minister and previous attacks," the investigator said.

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