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20 Pakistanis Killed, 50 Injured in Suicide Blast,
Angry Reaction to US Defense Secretary Warning

20 killed, 50 injured in suicide blast in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Sept. 15, 2011, (Xinhua) --

At least 20 people were killed and some 50 others injured when a suicide bomber hit a funeral in Pakistan's northwest district of Lower Dir on Thursday afternoon, local Urdu TV channel Geo reported.

According to the local media reports, the attack took place at around 3:00 p.m. local time Thursday at a funeral ceremony held for a local elder named Malik Sultan in the Jandol area of Lower Dir district.

All the injured people have been shifted to the local Timargara hospital. Hospital sources said that the death toll could further rise as many of the injured were in critical condition.

As the Jandol area is located in the deep mountainous area which is close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border line, details about the blast are not immediately available.

Both Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the suicide blast shortly after the incident was reported.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Last year a similar attack was reported at a funeral ceremony held in the country's northwest tribal area for a local elder who supported the government in the fight against Taliban, during which dozens were reportedly killed or injured.

Editor: Yamei Wang

Pakistan angrily reacts to U.S. defense chief warning

ISLAMABAD, Sept. 15, 2011 (Xinhua) --

Pakistan Thursday angrily reacted to remarks by U.S. defense secretary that Washington would do whatever it takes to defend U.S. forces from Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in Afghanistan.

Leon Panetta's remarks came two days after Taliban militants from the Haqqani network were blamed for attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul and NATO offices.

"Time and again we've urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis. And we have made very little progress in that area," Panetta told reporters flying with him to San Francisco on Wednesday.

Reacting to the U.S. defense chief's remarks, Pakistan said that the remarks about unilateral action inside Pakistan is out of line with the type of cooperation between the two countries on counter-terrorism.

Referring to his statement during weekly news briefing in Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said Pakistan condemns terrorism and terrorist incidents anywhere in the world.

She, however, pointed out that terrorism is a complex issue requiring close cooperation amongst all concerned. Pakistan and the United States have cooperated in counter-terrorism and Pakistan's cooperation is premised on the respect for the country's sovereignty.

The spokesperson said there was need to launch joint action against sanctuaries on the other side of the border from where militants have been launching attacks on Pakistani border posts and villages.

She said there is clear need for addressing the issue in a cooperative manner and Pakistan was prepared to continue to cooperate with the United States on counter-terrorism.

She said Pakistan has been emphasizing that timely intelligence sharing is critical for addressing the issues like high value targets.

The spokesperson said Pakistan's position on the U.S. drone attacks in the tribal region is guided by the resolution of the parliament and has been clearly stated to the United States on a number of occasions.

The spokesperson said Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar would be visiting New York from next Saturday to attend 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

She would hold a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday, which would provide an opportunity to the two leaders to discuss all issues, said the spokesperson.

Tehmina Janjua said Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Javid Luden is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad later Thursday to lead his country's delegation in the third meeting of the working group of the Joint Commission on Peace and Reconciliation.

She said Pakistan has taken up with Afghanistan the issue of incursions by militants from that country into Pakistan. Both countries agree that militants and terrorists are their common enemies.

Editor: Yamei Wang

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