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Pakistan bombings spur British aid

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, June 30, 2013, 8:27 p.m.
 

QUETTA, Pakistan — Bombings killed 49 people in three regions of Pakistan on Sunday, just as Britain's prime minister was in the capital pledging to fight extremism.

In the deadliest of the attacks, twin blasts near a Shiite Muslim mosque in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, killed at least 28, including nine women and several children, said city police Chief Mir Zubair Mahmood. Dozens were wounded.

A hand grenade caused the first blast, forcing people to run in the direction of the mosque, where a suicide bomber detonated his vest.

Security forces prevented the bomber from entering the mosque, or the death toll would have been higher, said Akbar Durrani, the provincial home secretary. Radical Sunni Muslims have stepped up attacks in the past two years against minority Shiites, whom they consider to be heretics.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Suspicion likely will fall on the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has carried out many of the attacks against Shiites in Baluchistan in recent years.

In the northwest, a car bomb exploded as a convoy of paramilitary troops passed through the outskirts of the city of Peshawar, killing at least 17 and wounding dozens, most of whom were civilians, police said.

Elsewhere in the northwest, a roadside bomb struck an army convoy and killed four soldiers in the North Waziristan tribal area, the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida in the country, intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron told his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, that Britain will do all it can to help fight extremism, a battle that he said requires a tough security response and measures to fight poverty and promote education.

Britain pledged to provide Pakistan more equipment to battle the kind of improvised explosives that killed the soldiers in North Waziristan and to share expertise in protecting sporting events.

“The enemies of Pakistan are enemies of Britain, and we will stand together and conduct this fight against extremism and terrorism together,” Cameron said at a joint news conference.

Sharif, the new prime minister, has pushed for talks with the Taliban.

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