Pakistani suicide attack kills 22

A suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack near the home of a Pakistani politician today.

The blast in the Punjabi town of Dera Ghazi Khan was the latest in a series by Taliban avenging an army offensive against insurgents in the north-west. More than 500 people have now been killed.

The attacker detonated his explosives outside the politician’s house, who was not at home at the time. Most of the dead and injured were people shopping or working at a nearby market.

Rescuers said 22 people were killed and 70 wounded.

The politician, Zulfiqar Khosa, is a senior member of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, which is in charge of the Punjab government but is in the opposition in the federal government.

Police and politicians in Punjab are under pressure to crack down on militant networks that have long recruited in its poor villages and Islamic boarding schools.

The militants have staged several attacks in Punjab to illustrate their reach across the country, far beyond the north-west tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Dera Ghazi Khan district is in Punjab but borders the country’s other three provinces.

Zulfiqar Khosa’s son, Dost Mohammad Khosa, said two of his cousins were among the wounded.

“It was a direct attack on us,” Dost Mohammad Khosa said.

Militants have mostly targeted security forces in recent months, but lawmakers and court buildings also have been attacked. There have also been at least three bombs in crowded markets, apparently aimed at causing civilian casualties and undercutting public support for the army offensive.

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