Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blasts in Afghanistan & Pakistan kill 120

40 died in north-west Pakistan on Saturday

Weekend news coverage, even amongst the 24 hour news stations is never as comprehensive as its weekday broadcast output. And so the coverage of yesterday’s bomb blast in Pakistan was scant. The BBC, Sky and CNN all had reporters broadcasting Live from the country, however the details were sketchy and there were no pictures from the scene. CBS News, which is broadcast via Sky News in the UK, did show some still pictures from one of the blasts, but the news item came fourth on the agenda, after the Illinois shooting, a fatal drag-racing event and the US military’s proposed attempt to shoot down an ailing satellite. The blasts came as Pakistan heads to the polls in the national election, delayed after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Whilst President Musharaff has said the election will be “free, fair and transparent” there has been many accusations of possible vote rigging. CBS reported 37 dead in the bombing in north-west Pakistan which targeted a candidate for the late Bhutto’s party, the PPP. There was also a suicide attack at an army media centre in the Swat valley. Two people were killed in that incident. Another suicide attack was thwarted in Hyderbad after police arrested a man wearing a suicide vest loaded with explosives [BBC]. The unstable situation has resulted in some candidates withdrawing from the election. Imrad Khan is one who says the election is flawed. He told the BBC that Pakistan was under a dictatorship and said the country faced “far greater problems than it does now”. He added that the sacked judges needed to be put back in office before the country could move forward.

In neighbouring Afghanistan, a suicide attack killed at least 80 people in what is thought to be the deadliest attack since 2001 [BBC]. The attack, which struck a crowd watching a dog fight, occurred on Sunday morning [CNN]. The target of the attack, which happened on open ground on the outskirts of Kandahar, is alleged to have been militia leader Abdul Hakim Jan, according to provincial council president Wali Karzai in comments reported by The Associated Press.

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