tampabay.com

Bomber kills 25 in Pakistan hotel

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 16, 2007


PESHAWAR, Pakistan - The suicide bomber's severed leg, found in the rubble of a restaurant where he killed 25 people, was wrapped with brown tape used to seal packages. On the tape, scrawled in the Pashto language, was an ominous warning.

"Those who spy for America will face this same fate, " it said.

The bomb went off Tuesday in the four-story Marhaba Hotel in an old quarter of this frontier city, which served as the main staging point for the mujahedeen in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s and is still synonymous with violent Islamic radicalism and political intrigue.

Security officials indicated the bombing could be retaliation for the weekend killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's military chief in nearby Afghanistan, a further sign that the war between Islamic militants and NATO forces was spilling across the border.

In addition to the warning for those who spy for the United States, the parcel tape bore the Persian word "Khurasan, " often used in militant videos to describe Afghanistan, said provincial police chief Sharif Virk.

Two security officials, who requested anonymity, said a close relative of Dadullah was arrested in the restaurant a few days ago.

They declined to identify the relative or say whether the arrest helped the U.S. military kill Dadullah in Afghanistan over the weekend. He was one of the most senior militant leaders to die since the Taliban regime was ousted in late 2001 for hosting al-Qaida.

Tuesday's attack follows rioting in Karachi over the weekend that claimed more than 40 lives, an exchange of mortar fire between Afghan and Pakistani troops on Sunday, and the killing of a U.S. soldier and a Pakistani on the Pakistani side of the border during an ambush on Monday.

Each incident has had its own individual causes. But analysts say taken together, they are rapidly undermining the strength of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has been accused of allowing tensions to fester while focusing on ways to preserve his political strength.

"Musharraf is losing control, " said retired Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a one-time Musharraf adviser. "The government is only interested in pushing its own agenda and staying in power. They're not interested in addressing Pakistan's problems."

Ouster challenged: Pakistan's Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry challenged his ouster at the hands of Musharraf before the highest court Tuesday, alleging he had been held against his will for several hours in the leader's army office.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.