A blast at a police recruiting center in Pakistan's northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan killed at least 18 people when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near individuals taking an entrance exam to become police officers.
It was the second major attack today, coming hours after two suicide attackers and a roadside bomb simultaneously struck a military convoy in northwestern Pakistan. At least 17 people were killed in that incident, which occurred near the town of Matta in the Northwest Frontier Province that borders Afghanistan, including 12 security forces and five civilians.
The suicide attacks today put the death toll at nearly 60 in the past two days.
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, local journalist Shaheen Bonairi described a region gripped by fear amid the bloody violence.
"The situation -- as we observe today -- is very tense," Bonairi said. "Many people are not leaving their houses out of fear."
At least 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by a suicide car bomber in the North Waziristan tribal region on July 14.
Major General Waheed Arshad said reinforcements have been sent to the northwest to assist some 90,000 troops already in the region.
He also said the attacks might have been in response to an army raid on Islamabad's Red Mosque on July 11.
The raid ended an eight-day siege to dislodge cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in the authorities' storming of the complex, and his supporters.
Clerics and students at the Red Mosque had led a campaign for the imposition of strict Islamic Shari'a law in Islamabad and were accused of abductions and the vigilante-style imposition of justice in the area.
In a televised address to the country on July 12, President Pervez Musharraf vowed to "eliminate terrorism and extremism from every province of Pakistan."
Thousands of people have protested across Pakistan against the assault on the mosque that left more than 80 dead.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has released a video message on the Internet calling for Pakistanis to join a holy war to avenge the raid.
EYE OF A STORM:
Afghan officials first suggested that insurgents or terrorists were crossing the border from Pakistan in 2003. Relations have run hot and cold ever since. But the roots of the problem go back much further.
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