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Deadly Suicide Blast Hits Bus Stand In Pakistan

Pakistani security officials inspect wreckage from a suicide attack at a bus stand in the district of Lower Dir on Monday.
M. A. Khan
Pakistani security officials inspect wreckage from a suicide attack at a bus stand in the district of Lower Dir on Monday.

A suicide bomber walked up to a bus stand in northwest Pakistan on Monday and blew himself up, killing at least six people a day after a blast killed dozens at one of the country's most important Sufi shrines.

Authorities said Monday's attack in the militancy-plagued district of Lower Dir was carried out by a bomber who appeared to be a young teenager. Sunday's suicide bombers who targeted the shrine in the Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab province were also described as young teens.

Young boys, often with little education, have been increasingly recruited as bombers by militants.

A police officer in Lower Dir, Salim Marwat, told The Associated Press that a tribal elder regarded as pro-government was among the dead and might have been the target of the attack.

Lower Dir is located in the northwest corner of the country, which has a history of volatility. But last month saw dozens of small attacks that were not confined to the region. Their frequency and reach suggests a tenacity that is confounding the ability even of Pakistan's powerful army to stop them.

The army launched an offensive in Lower Dir to expel the militants two years ago, but extremists have continued to launch attacks. Dir lies close to Pakistan's tribal areas used by Al-Qaida linked Pakistani Taliban as a base, and the area is especially vulnerable to militant infiltration.

Sunday's attack on the Sakhi Sarwar shrine by a pair of suicide bombers killed 42 people and wounded 100 others. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, one of the country's largest and best organized militant groups, claimed responsibility.

Another bomber was wounded when his explosive vest partially detonated. The 14-year-old boy, identified as Fida Hussain, was arrested along with a fourth militant who was seized before attacking, police official Ahmad Mubarak said.

Hussain was unrepentant, according to police officer Khalid Mahmood.

Mahmood told the AP that the boy said, "Let me go, I want to be a martyr — I want to send all you policemen to hell!" as he was being led away.

There have been at least five deadly attacks against similar shrines in Pakistan over the last two years.

While the attacks are motivated by religious differences, they also appear aimed at provoking sectarian warfare and making the government look weak because it is failing to protect the people.

NPR's Julie McCarthy reported from Islamabad for this story, which contains material from The Associated Press .

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NPR Staff and Wires