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Pakistan: Blasts rock mosques, 15 killed

By Rezaul H Laskar and M Zulqernain Lahore/Islamabad
Last updated on: June 12, 2009 21:13 IST
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A prominent anti-Taliban cleric and 10 others were killed and nearly 100 injured when suicide bombers struck at the compound of a religious group in Lahore and a mosque in Nowshera in Pakistan on Thursday.

Militants also carried out a bombing, targeting security vehicles in northwestern Pakistani town of Hangu, killing four policemen and injuring two others, including an officer.

Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi, an outspoken critic of the Taliban who played a key role in bringing together clerics to issue a fatwa declaring suicide bombings as un-Islamic, was killed with at least three other persons when a suicide attacker targeted the compound of the Jamia Naeemia organisation in Lahore.

The attack occurred shortly after the end of Friday prayers at Jamia Naeemia mosque. The teenaged bomber rushed through a large number of people leaving the mosque and barged into Naeemi's office, where he detonated his explosives.

Naeemi died while being taken to a nearby hospital. His close aide Maulana Abdur Rehman was also killed. At least a dozen people were injured in the attack.

In another brazen attack in Peshawar, car-borne militants sprayed the heavily-guarded house of Lt Gen Masood Aslam, the army commander heading the military offensive against Taliban, with gunfire, triggering a gun battle that left two militants dead and two persons wounded, officials said.

In northwestern cantonment city of Nowshera, six persons were killed and 90 injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden truck into a mosque in an army supply depot.

The ceiling of the mosque collapsed after the blast, which also damaged nearby houses and cars parked nearby. Officials said most of the dead and injured were employees of the army supply depot.

Amid a string of attacks and suicide bombings, Pakistani troops stepped up their offensive in the northwestern tribal belt, with the army saying 39 militants and 10 soldiers were killed in raging battle in the troubled Malakand division.

Eight soldiers were killed and 13 injured when a fierce firefight erupted between militants and security forces that were consolidating their positions at Chuprial in Swat valley.

A total of 39 militants were also killed in the skirmish, the military said. Two more soldiers were killed and eight injured when security forces were securing areas around Kabal held by the Taliban.

Casualties among the militants during the exchange of fire could not be confirmed, the military said. Three soldiers were injured when militants carried out a raid on security forces near Charbagh, a former Taliban stronghold in Swat.

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Rezaul H Laskar and M Zulqernain Lahore/Islamabad
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