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Bomber caught after Pakistan blasts


The scene of a suicide attack in Lower Dir, Pakistan (AP)

The scene of a suicide attack in Lower Dir, Pakistan (AP)

The scene of a suicide attack in Lower Dir, Pakistan (AP)

A 14-year-old would-be suicide bomber has been arrested after his explosives failed to detonate at a Sufi shrine in central Pakistan.

The boy, identified as Fida Hussain, was arrested shortly after Sunday's twin suicide blasts, which killed 42 people and wounded 100 others. The complex close to Dera Ghazi Khan was crowded with thousands of people attending an annual festival.

After his arrest, the boy said: "Let me go, I want to be a martyr," according to police. "I want to send all you policemen to hell!"

Another suspect was also detained at the shrine, but police gave no details about him.

On Monday, another suicide bomber struck, killing seven people at a bus station in the north-western region of Lower Dir, said police officer Salim Marwat. One of the dead was a tribal elder who was regarded as pro-government, and as such was the likely target, he said.

Information from the pair detained at the shrine could provide clues about the network behind the blasts.

The shrine was targeted because Islamist extremists regard the veneration of Sufi saints - a much loved and widespread practice in Pakistan - as un-Islamic.

Police said both boys were apparently from North Waziristan, one of seven tribally administered areas close to Afghanistan. All those areas are militant hotspots, but North Waziristan is considered especially so. It is under virtual militant control and is home to extremists from around Pakistan and the world.

Young boys, often with little or no education, are often used by the Taliban as suicide bombers. As well as being less suspicious, terrorism analysts say their handlers find it easier to persuade them to carry out suicide missions.

Police said Hussain and the other attacker were at the shrine for around one hour before striking. When Hussain's vest failed to detonate, he threw a grenade but it exploded close to him, blowing off his hand. Police then fired at him, hitting him in his other arm. He was being treated for his injuries.