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3 SUICIDE BOMBERS FIRE ON WORSHIPERS AT PAKISTAN MOSQUE , KILL 40


RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Three suicide bombers fired on worshipers then blew themselves up at a mosque near Pakistan's military headquarters after Friday prayers, killing 40 people, including many army officials, police said.
  • The mosque is frequented by military officials in the town of Rawalpindi, home to Pakistan's military establishment and only a 30-minute drive from the capital Islamabad.
  • The brazen attack in what should be one of the most secure areas of Pakistan was the latest challenge by militants against the writ of the state. A local television station said people were executed in cold blood.
  • Pakistan is fighting Taliban fighters blamed for bombings that have killed hundreds of people since an offensive was launched on their stronghold South Waziristan in October.
  • The nuclear-armed country faces mounting U.S. pressure to root out Islamist militants operating along forbidding border areas to help in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • "They were three. They first opened fire and then blew themselves up," Rao Iqbal, Rawalpindi police chief, told Reuters.
  • Witnesses said earlier that attackers hurled grenades then opened fire on the mosque. A policeman said the militants arrived in a grey Toyota car.
  • The cleric had just finished his sermon with the phrase "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) when an explosion shook worshippers in the Parade Lane mosque.
  • "As soon as we finished prayers. I heard a blast and firing. I saw some wounded laying in the courtyard of the mosque," said Bakhtawar Hussain.
  • The violence will pressure President Asif Ali Zardari to do more to neutralize the threat from the stubborn Taliban insurgency. But he is an increasingly unpopular figure who has been at odds with the all-powerful military, which sets national security policy.
  • "There is a possibility that some of them may still be hiding in the vicinity," said military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas.
Source: Reuters
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