- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A suicide bomber blew up at a busy bus terminal near the Pakistani capital Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding 18 more, officials said.

The blast came as Pakistan’s leaders sought to end a political crisis that has raised doubts about their focus on fighting Islamist militants blamed for a string of similar bombings in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

TV images from the city of Rawalpindi showed rescue workers helping the wounded to ambulances while gloved investigators picked debris from a darkened street among several badly damaged cars and minibuses.

City police official Nasir Durrani said rescue workers recovered 10 corpses from the scene, including remains believed to be those of the bomber.

Officials had warned of possible suicide attacks in Pakistani cities in the run-up to recent anti-government protests.

A final mass rally planned for the capital Islamabad on Monday was called off after the government agreed to demands to restore senior judges ousted from the Supreme Court.

Rehman Malik, the head of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, said it was unclear if the bomber deliberately targeted the teeming bus terminal that was hit late Monday or if the explosives went off prematurely.

No group claimed responsibility and there was no indication of what other target the bomber may have been heading for.

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