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Death Toll at 73 in Pakistan Attacks   06/24 10:03

   PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- The death toll from twin blasts in the 
northwestern town of Parachinar climbed to 55 overnight, bringing the overall 
death toll from three separate attacks in Pakistan on Friday to 73, with 
several others in critical condition, officials said.

   Shahid Khan, a government official in Parachinar, confirmed the toll 
Saturday, saying residents who had been preparing to celebrate the end of 
Ramadan were now in mourning. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group, 
claimed the twin bombings at a crowded market in the Shiite-dominated town, 
linking them to sectarian fighting in Syria.

   Dr. Sabir Hussain, an official at a government-run hospital in Parachinar, 
said they had received 261 victims of the twin blasts, with 62 listed in 
critical condition.

   Another 14 people were killed Friday in a suicide car bombing near the 
office of the provincial police chief in the southwestern city of Quetta, 
police spokesman Shahzada Farhat said. That attack was claimed by a breakaway 
Taliban faction and the Islamic State group. Gunmen in the port city of Karachi 
attacked police officers at a roadside restaurant, killing four of them before 
fleeing, senior police officer Asif Ahmed said.

   Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, a military spokesman, linked the attacks to alleged 
militant sanctuaries in neighboring Afghanistan and promised greater border 
security. The two countries often accuse each other of turning a blind eye to 
militants.

   Security forces raided a militant hideout in the northwestern city of 
Peshawar before dawn Saturday, triggering a shootout in which three Pakistani 
Taliban were killed and two police officers were wounded, senior police 
official Sajjad Khan said. He said the militants were making bombs that likely 
would have been used to target holiday festivities.

   Khan said the identity of the slain militants was not immediately known. But 
intelligence officials said one of the men has been identified as a wanted 
militant commander linked to the IS group. They spoke on condition of anonymity 
because they were not authorized to release the information.

   Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks, which came just days 
before Eid-al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the fasting month 
of Ramadan.

   Friday's car bombing in Quetta could be heard across the city, and shattered 
the windows of nearby buildings, said police spokesman Shahzada Farhat. TV 
footage showed several badly damaged cars and a road littered with broken glass.

   Hours after the attack, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the 
Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility. Later Friday, the IS group said in a 
competing claim that it was behind the attack, adding that one of its followers 
targeted the police post in Quetta, detonating his suicide belt there. It also 
released a photograph of the alleged attacker, identified as Abu Othman 
al-Khorasani.

   Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which has long been the scene 
of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists and separatists, who want a 
bigger share of the region's resources or outright independence. Islamic 
militants have also carried out several attacks in the province.


(KA)

 
 
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