ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Samina Rajput speaks in hushed tones about her husband, Asif, who was killed alongside former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the December 27 attack that convulsed the nation.
Suicide bombings have killed 400 people and wounded nearly 1,000 others in the last three months.
"He always used to say ... 'I am ready to sacrifice my life for the party and my country,'" Rajput says.
She clings to a weathered book with newspaper clippings of her husband, a 28-year-old Bhutto supporter who had great political ambitions. He wanted a brighter and freer Pakistan, Rajput says, as she turns the delicate pages of the scrapbook.
The clippings on the faded pages offer little comfort. But a picture of their wedding day less than two years ago, buried among the pages, makes her face light up somewhat.
"As the widow of a martyr, one has to keep dignity, and I will do this up to my last breath," Rajput says, clasping her hands and rubbing them together.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber killed at least 23 people and injured more than 58 others outside a court in Lahore, police said.
The attack brought to 20 the number of suicide attacks in Pakistan in the last three months, including a failed attack on Bhutto's life in October. The bombings have killed close to 400 people and wounded nearly 1,000 others in the last three months, according to government officials.
Pro-Taliban militants with ties to al Qaeda are carrying out the attacks, according to analysts and government officials.
CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen says the number of suicide bombings in Pakistan has "reached unprecedented levels in the past year." Previously, Bergen says, such attacks were rare.
"The reason for this rise is because al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban have morphed together ideologically and tactically, and both see themselves at war with the Pakistani state," Bergen says. "Many of the suicide attacks have been aimed at Pakistani politicians, officials and soldiers."
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has vowed to fight militancy and religious extremism, going after Taliban and al Qaeda within the country. Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani, recently told CNN that the Pakistani military is "totally focused on destroying al Qaeda and the Taliban network and not just one person."
Still, the suicide bombers are succeeding, targeting political parties, rallies, military installations and anyone seen as a threat. Meanwhile, civilians are caught in the crossfire.
"They would like to destabilize our country," Azhar Hamdani, who survived a July attack, says of suicide bombers.
Clutching a walker, Hamdani recalls the blast that changed his life. On July 17, 2007, a suicide bomber targeted a rally for Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who was stripped of power by Musharraf.
The explosion killed at least 12 people and wounded 35 others in the capital, Islamabad.
Hamdani remembers a strong blast throwing him several yards. When he regained consciousness, he was missing his left eye and his right leg was severely injured.
"My leg was totally damaged," he says. "My one left eye was damaged and I have several other injuries on my body."
But at the time of the blast, Hamdani was not focused on his own pain, he says, because he was surrounded by the bodies of his dead friends lying in pools of blood.
The bombings, he says, must be stopped. "I hope that we will succeed and, God willing, we will try to stop these bloody cowards," he says. "I don't think they are Muslim."
"Innocent people are suffering." E-mail to a friend
CNN's Wayne Drash contributed to this report.
|Most Viewed||Most Emailed||Top Searches|