Suicide attack kills 35 in Pakistan

Updated: 2007-12-21 15:15

Peshawar, Pakistan - A suicide attacker detonated a bomb early Friday at a mosque outside the home of Pakistan's former interior minister as he received visitors on an Islamic holiday, killing at least 35 people and wounding dozens more, authorities said.

A group of lawyers and human rights activists, who are hoping to meet with deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, offer Eid-al-Adha prayers beside the police barricade near Chaudhry's residence in Islamabad, Pakistan, December 21, 2007. [Agencies]

It was apparently the second attack in eight months to target the politician, Aftab Khan Sherpao, who escaped unhurt. Sherpao is running for parliament in next month's general elections.

Election-related violence is common in Pakistan, but suspicion over the bombing will likely focus on pro-Taliban or al-Qaida militants who are active in the country's northwest.

The blast went off as worshippers held prayers for the Eid al-Adha holy day at the mosque in Sherpao's residential compound in Sherpao, a village about 25 miles northeast of the city of Peshawar, a witness said.

Provincial Health Minister Syed Kamal Shah said 35 people were killed and about three dozen were injured. Provincial police chief Sharif Virk said one of Sherpao's sons was hurt.

Kamal Shah, a top Interior Ministry official in Islamabad, said he was not sure who was behind the bombing, but believed it was related to the previous attack on Sherpao, which killed at least 28 people and slightly wounded the former minister.

"We were saying prayers when this huge explosion occurred," said Shaukat Ali, a 26-year-old survivor of the blast Friday.

"It almost blew out our ear drums. Then it was like a scene from Doomsday," said Ali, whose white cloak and pants were torn and spattered with blood.

Virk said the bomber was praying in a row of worshippers when he detonated the explosive.

Dozens of wounded were taken to the hospital in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. The scene was chaotic as the injured arrived in pickup trucks, ambulance sirens wailed and wounded people screamed for help.

Sherpao was interior minister -- Pakistan's top civilian security official -- in the administration recently dissolved ahead of January parliamentary elections. He is head of the Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao.

In April, a suicide bomber attacked a rally for Sherpao's political party in the nearby town of Charsadda, killing at least 28 people.

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