July 2, 2010 in Nation/World

Bomb blasts kill 35 in Pakistan

Babar Dogar Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Family members of victims comfort each others after suicide bombers attacked a popular Muslim shrine in the Pakistan city of Lahore late Thursday night.
(Full-size photo)

Battle ends

in capture

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. and Afghan troops seized a key Taliban figure after a four-hour gunbattle – part of a strategy that NATO officials said Thursday had eliminated more than 100 insurgent leaders in the past four months. The latest reported capture happened Wednesday night in the remote Baghran district in the northern part of Helmand province.

LAHORE, Pakistan – Two suicide bombers struck a popular Muslim shrine in Pakistan’s second largest city, killing 35 people and wounding 175 others in the second major attack in Lahore in a month.

The bombers attacked late Thursday as thousands of people visited the Data Darbar shrine, where a famous Sufi saint is buried. Lahore has experienced a growing number of attacks as Taliban fighters along the northwest border with Afghanistan have teamed up with militant groups once supported by the government in the country’s heartland.

The first bomber detonated his explosives in a large underground room where visitors sleep and wash themselves before praying, said Khusro Pervez, the top government official in Lahore. The attack occurred as volunteers handed out food to people visiting the shrine.

Minutes later, a second bomber detonated his explosives upstairs in a large courtyard in front of the shrine as people tried to flee the first attack, said Pervez.

The blasts ripped concrete from the walls, twisted metal gates and left wires hanging from the ceiling, television footage showed. Blood stained the shrine’s white marble floor.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But Islamist extremists consider Sufis to be heretics and have often targeted them, as well as Shiites and other minority groups.

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