Suicide bomber kills 30 at funeral in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:53am EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed 30 people, including a provincial legislator, gathered for the funeral of a businessman in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, police said.

Legislator Imran Mohmand, formerly associated with an anti-Taliban party, was elected as an independent in May but joined the party of former cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan.

The bombing occurred in Mardan, in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which is controlled by Khan's party.

Senior police say Mohmand was the target of the bombing, probably due to his previous association with the Awami National Party, known for its hard stance against the Taliban.

The ANP controlled the province before Khan won a majority there in May.

Khan's party favor ending drone strikes and holding talks with the Taliban. The militants did not target Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party during the campaign although other parties, including the ANP, suffered fatal Taliban attacks.

A Taliban spokesman declined to comment when asked whether the militants was responsible for the bombing.

If the Taliban have decided to take on Khan's party, it could make the task of ruling the province - which contains the militants' heartlands - far more difficult.

The businessman whose funeral was being held owned a gas station in the region.

(Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams)

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