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Taliban claim Pakistan suicide blasts that kill 46

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[August 21, 2008]  WAH, Pakistan (AP) -- A spokesman for Pakistani Taliban groups has claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings at a government arms factory near the capital.

HardwareOfficials say the attacks in the garrison town of Wah have killed at least 46 people.

Maulvi Umar told The Associated Press that Thursday's attacks were in revenge for military air strikes in Bajaur, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border.

Umar said militants will carry out similar attacks in other major cities, including the capital Islamabad, unless the military halts its operations.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of Pakistan's main weapons complex outside the capital on Thursday, killing 46 people and wounding 70, officials said.

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The bombers struck at two different gates as many workers were leaving the sprawling facility in Wah, a garrison city about 20 miles west of Islamabad, authorities said.

"All around the gate I saw blood and human flesh. People helped the injured and took them in their cars and even on motorbikes to the hospital," said Rana Tanveer. He said he was working at a bank near one of the gates.

"Seven or eight people were already dead and another 10 people were breathing their last," he said.

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Hospital official Mohammed Azhar said 46 people died in the attack and 70 others were wounded, some of them critically. Security officials said the death toll would likely rise.

Security forces are involved in an escalating battle with Islamic extremists in two nearby regions of northwestern Pakistan, despite government efforts to negotiate peace with extremist groups.

Militants have threatened to restart a bombing campaign which swept the country last year, killing scores of security forces and culminating in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

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Regional police chief Nasir Durrani said the bomber struck as workers were streaming out after a shift change at the weapons complex, Pakistan's largest.

"There are two torn bodies lying there which we believe are those of the suicide bombers," Durrani said.

Soldiers and police later sealed off the area and prevented reporters from approaching. Television footage showed workers struggling to lift a blackened corpse onto a stretcher.

Behind the cordon, Durrani said forensic teams were picking over the scene and would try to reconstruct the bombers' faces to try to identify them.

Officials said the bombers managed to enter the cantonment area of the town undetected, but did not penetrate the tightly controlled Pakistan Ordnance Factories complex.

Officials say the factories are on guard not only to stop anyone from gaining unauthorized entry, but also to prevent anyone trying to smuggle weapons and explosives out.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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