x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Anti-Taliban cleric killed in Pakistan blast

A prominent Pakistani Muslim cleric has been killed in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Lahore, police say.

A Pakistani official, centre, checks a room after a suicide attack in Lahore,
A Pakistani official, centre, checks a room after a suicide attack in Lahore,

A prominent anti-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric was killed today in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Lahore, police said. In another blast at around the same time, a suicide car-bomber set off explosives near a mosque in the northwestern town of Nowshera, killing at least three people. The blasts came as Pakistani forces stepped up attacks on militants across the north-west after the US House of Representatives approved tripling aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) a year for the next five years.

Security forces have made progress in more than a month of fighting against Taliban militants in the Swat valley, north-west of Islamabad, and in recent days have begun operations in several other parts of the region. The militants have responded with a series of bomb attacks. Moderate cleric Sarfraz Naeemi was attacked at his mosque complex just after leading Friday prayers. "Unfortunately, Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi has been martyred," Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore told reporters.

In Nowshera, in North-West Frontier Province, three people were killed and more than 20 were wounded, police said. Rising violence has raised fears for Pakistan's stability and for the safety of its nuclear arsenal but the offensive in Swat has reassured the United States about its commitment to the global campaign against militancy. *Reuters