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  • Suicide bomber kills 32 in Pakistan mosque

    Govt says Swat almost cleared of Taliban fighters

    A suicide bomber ripped through a mosque packed with worshippers in northwest Pakistan Friday, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens more in the deadliest such attack in more than two months.

    The bomb exploded at the mosque in the remote, mountainous village of Hayagai Sharqai in Upper Dir, which borders the district of Swat where the military has focused its blistering air and ground assault against the Taliban.

    Police said the bomb attack occurred during weekly Muslim prayers, which convene Friday afternoon and generally see mosques packed with worshippers.

    Umer Rehman, a resident of Hayagai village, around 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Islamabad, said 30 bodies had been identified.

    "A large number of body parts are scattered in the mosque. We don't know whether these are parts of the dead who have been identified or of others."

    "The building was severely damaged. People are still trapped under the rubble. Local people are engaged in rescue work and police teams have been rushed to the area," said police official Ataullah Khan.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but there has been a surge of bombings in towns of North West Frontier Province since the military assault began.

    Bombs regularly target mosques in Pakistan, where more than 1,900 people have been killed in a wave of extremist bombings across the country since government troops besieged gunmen in a radical Islamabad mosque in July 2007.

    On March 27, a suicide bomber in Jamrud, also in northwest Pakistan, killed about 50 people in one of the deadliest such mosque attacks at Friday prayers.

    The building was severely damaged. People are still trapped under the rubble

    police official Ataullah Khan

    War on Taliban

    Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said such incidents would not "deter the government from its resolve to eliminate this scourge (of terrorism) from the country."

    On Thursday, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani announced that the battle was turning in the army's favor in the district of Swat.

    "The tide in Swat has decisively turned: major population centers and roads leading to the valley have been largely cleared of organized resistance by the terrorists," he was quoted as saying in a statement.

    He said Taliban leaders were being "aggressively hunted" but that clearing remaining militant hideouts and sanctuaries would require limited scale operations.

    The military says more than 1,200 taliban fighters and 90 soldiers have been killed since the army swung into action in late April, while the fighter have carried out bomb attacks in Lahore, and the northwestern cities of Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan.

    The tide in Swat has decisively turned: major population centers and roads leading to the valley have been largely cleared of organized resistance by the terrorists

    chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani