Last Updated: Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:50 pm (KSA) 09:50 am (GMT)

Clinton in Pakistan as bomb toll hits 105

Pakistanis shout slogans against the US during a protest in Lahore
Pakistanis shout slogans against the US during a protest in Lahore

The death toll from a massive car bomb attack that ripped through a crowded market in Pakistan's Peshawar has risen to 105, the city's main hospital confirmed Thursday.

"A total of 105 people have been killed. Seventy-one of them were identified. Thirteen are children and 27 were women," Doctor Zafar Iqbal told AFP at the Lady Reading Hospital.

 A total of 105 people have been killed. Seventy-one of them were identified. Thirteen are children and 27 were women 
Doctor Zafar Iqbal

Rescue workers and government officials had warned that the death toll was likely to rise with casualties trapped under collapsed shops at the bomb site, where a large blaze and a toppled building hampered the relief effort.

The blast came several hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan pledging a fresh start in relations with an increasingly embattled and sceptical partner in the struggle against Islamic militancy.

Earlier, Clinton urged Pakistan to face up to the potential threat of nuclear-armed terrorists and encouraged the country to join nuclear non-proliferation talks.

Clinton is the most senior U.S. official to visit the nuclear-armed Muslim state since President Barack Obama put Pakistan at the heart of the fight against al-Qaeda and made the war in neighboring Afghanistan a top priority.

The top U.S. diplomat, who arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday at the start of a three-day visit to the nuclear-armed Muslim nation, said Washington had a "high degree of confidence" that the country's atomic arsenal was safe.

Critical juncture for Pakistan

 We know al-Qaeda and their related extremist allies are always on the hunt for nuclear material and it doesn’t have to be a lot to create a very damaging explosion with extraordinary psychological and political ramifications 
U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton

"But we worry about proliferation and we have good reason to worry about proliferation," she said, alluding to the reputed father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The United States has warned that the disgraced scientist, who was effectively put under a five-year house arrest after he admitted leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, is still a proliferation risk.

"We want to encourage Pakistan to join with us in the non-proliferation review conference that will be held next spring," Clinton told reporters travelling with her.

"We want them to work with us on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. We want them to really understand how serious a threat we face."

Clinton's arrival comes at a critical juncture for Pakistan, where a rising number of audacious attacks has shown al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked extremists can target anyone at anytime, and with the military pressing a major offensive.

She called on Pakistan's military to face up to the potential gravity of the threat in a country Washington has put at the heart of the fight against al-Qaeda and on the frontline of the war in Afghanistan.

"We know al-Qaeda and their related extremist allies are always on the hunt for nuclear material and it doesn’t have to be a lot to create a very damaging explosion with extraordinary psychological and political ramifications."

"Now that we see that the Pakistani military recognizes the threat posed, we want them also to imagine what that threat would be with a nuclear weaponized terrorist group in their midst."

"It’s not just about what might happen in our country or in Europe. It’s what could happen in Pakistan and what the impact of that would be," she said.

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