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General killed in suicide bombing

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Two separate attacks in Pakistan killed at least 11 people on Monday, including the country's surgeon general, the highest-ranking military officer to die in an attack in years, according to government officials.

The first attack occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison city near Pakistan's capital, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for the Pakistani army. A suicide bomber approached a cluster of cars stopped at an intersection in the city's center and detonated a vest laden with explosives.

The blast instantly killed Pakistan's surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Mushtaq Baig, his driver and his guard, Abbas said. Five other people were killed and 20 others were injured.

Abbas said Baig, a three-star army general and the principal of Pakistan's army medical college, was the highest-ranking officer killed since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism in 2001. While acknowledging that it was a "targeted attack," Abbas cautioned that it was "too early to speculate" on whether Islamic extremists were behind it.

Within hours of the bombing, gunmen attacked the offices of an international aid organization in restive North-West Frontier province. The assailants opened fire on several workers at the offices of British-based Plan International in the northern town of Mansehra before detonating a grenade, police said.

Details of the attack remained unclear Monday night. According to a statement on Plan International's Web site, the gunmen used three "explosive devices," killing three staff members. Other reports said four had been killed.

The attacks marked the first major eruption of violence since Pakistan's leading opposition parties won last week's parliamentary elections and announced their intention to begin talks with Islamic extremists.

General killed in suicide bombing 02/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:56am]
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