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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Number of victims of explosion in Pakistan rises to 34

RIA Novosti

15:30 02/11/2009 NEW DELHI, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - The number of casualties from a massive explosion in the city of Rawalpindi, near the capital of Islamabad, has grown to 34, Pakistani TV-channel Geo reported on Monday.

The blast occurred near the Shalimar Hotel on Mall Road in the closely guarded city, which is home to Pakistan Army's headquarters and the State Bank of Pakistan.

Pakistan's Dawn TV channel reported that the hotel building was seriously damaged. The area was cordoned off by police, and rescuers, firefighters and doctors were working at the scene.

Among the dead were people waiting in line at a cash machine, including two military officers.

According to police, the terrorist attack was conducted by a suicide bomber who approached the crowd on a motorcycle or bicycle. Police have found parts of the terrorist's body, including his head, as well as fragments from a suicide belt.

Rawalpindi Police Chief Rao Muhammad Iqbal said earlier on Monday the bomber rode up to the front of the National Bank in a motorcycle or a bicycle, although other reports said there could have been more than one attacker.

Last week a roadside bomb killed seven and injured 11 paramilitary soldiers in the tribal Khyber region in Pakistan's northwest.

The area separating Pakistan and Afghanistan has been a stronghold for Taliban radicals whofled Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime there in 2001, as well as for Al-Qaeda fighters.

The army launched an offensive in Khyber in September after a suicide bomber blew himself up near a border post, killing 22 police officers.

Pakistan started a separate offensive against Taliban in South Waziristan three weeks ago after a series of deadly suicide attacks.

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