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Taliban claim credit for Pakistan blast

  • Story Highlights
  • Attack was the first in Pakistan since Musharraf stepped down Monday
  • Pakistani newspapers, bloggers urge PPP and PML-N to resolve differences
  • North West Frontier Province is rife with insurgents, clashes
  • Tuesday attack occurred outside hospital
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Islamic militant movement, the Taliban, claimed responsibility for an explosion at a hospital in northwestern Pakistan and warned of more attacks unless the military halts its offensive against insurgents in the region, state media reported.

A suicide bomber detonated explosives near the emergency entrance to a hospital in the Dera Ismail Khan district on Tuesday, killing 29 and wounding another 35, the Associated Press of Pakistan said.

At the time, a crowd had gathered outside the hospital to protest the death of a Shi'ite Muslim leader, who had been fatally shot, police said.

A Taliban spokesman later called authorities to warn of further attacks.

After the blast, Pakistani newspapers and bloggers urged the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) to reconcile their differences and tackle the country's more pressing concerns: the economy and terrorism.

The district where the explosion occurred is located in the North West Frontier Province, near the country's border with Afghanistan.

The province is rife with Islamic extremists and has been the site of recent clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants.

In late June, the military launched an offensive in the area -- the biggest push against extremists in the tribal region since the civilian government took power in March. Islamic militants vowed to retaliate against the operation.

The incident was the first in Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf stepped down on Monday.

The act of picking his successor has taken a back seat as the two political parties that lead the ruling coalition continue to wrangle over the issue of restoring judges that Musharraf fired.

Last November, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and fired some 60 judges, including 14 of 18 who sat on the Supreme Court.

Critics contend that Musharraf sacked the judges because they were preparing to rule against the legitimacy of his third term in office. He had been re-elected president by a parliament stacked with his supporters, they said.

After sweeping into power in parliamentary elections, the coalition promised to reinstate the judges within 30 days of taking office, but that hasn't happened.

PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif believed a simple resolution followed by an executive order will be enough to restore the judges. The PPP, on the other hand, wants constitutional changes along with a resolution. That would take longer.

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One reason behind the delay, some experts have surmised, may be that the Supreme Court was expected to look into the controversial amnesty granted to former PPP leader Benazir Bhutto and her husband for corruption charges.

Bhutto was assassinated during a campaign rally last year. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari is in charge of the PPP while their son, the heir to the position, completes his college education in England.

All About PakistanNorth-West Frontier Province

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