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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blast in Pakistan court kills at least 12 - police

QUETTA, Pakistan, Feb 17 (Reuters) - At least 12 people, including a judge, were killed in a suspected suicide bomb attack on a courtroom in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on Saturday, according to police.

"Twelve people, including a senior judge and six lawyers, have been killed in the blast, and over 20 people were wounded," Rehmat Niazi, the police officer in charge of operations, told Reuters.

Police found a head amongst the carnage, raising suspicions that the blast could be have caused by a suicide bomber, Niazi said.

Pakistan has recently suffered a spate of suicide attacks that intelligence officials have linked to groups operating from tribal areas, regarded as hotbeds of support for the Taliban. The attacks followed a Pakistan army air strike on a militant base in Waziristan in mid-January.

Pakistan has been under mounting pressure from the United States and Afghanistan to tackle Taliban sanctuaries on its territory.

Taliban leaders are widely believed to be operating from in and around Quetta, the capital of the restive province of Baluchistan, though Pakistan consistently denies their presence.

Baluchistan is also beset with unrest due to ethnic Baluch militants, who are fighting for greater autonomy.
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