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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Bomber targets Pakistan lawyers
Pakistan bombing
The blast appeared to target senior judge Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
Fifteen people have been killed and more than 40 wounded by a suicide bomb at a lawyers' rally in Pakistan.

Ousted chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was due to address the rally in the capital Islamabad, but was not present at the time of the attack.

Television footage showed blood at the scene of the bombing and several people lying motionless on the ground.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf strongly condemned the "terrorist attack" and appealed for calm.

Mr Chaudhry has been at the centre of growing anti-government protests ever since General Musharraf suspended him in March.

Justice Chaudhry denies allegations that he misused his office. He and his supporters say the charges are politically motivated.

Correspondents say there was chaos at the site of the attack near the Supreme Court, with ambulances rushing to the scene to attend to the injured.

Unclear motive

Hospital and interior ministry officials say 15 people were killed and at least 43 injured in the blast.

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry
Judge Chaudhry is a staunch opponent of President Musharraf

Witnesses said the bomber struck near where supporters of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto had gathered for the rally.

Police said Mr Chaudhry was several kilometres away when the blast occurred.

The BBC's Dan Isaacs in Islamabad says it is far from clear what the motive might have been for a suicide attack on the rally of lawyers.

At recent talks in London, the PPP distanced itself from the alliance of Islamic parties who also oppose President Musharraf.

The PPP also backed the security forces' decision last week to storm the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad where hard-line clerics and militants had waged a campaign for a strict version of Sharia law in recent months.

In recent days, dozens of people have been killed in a spate of bombings in north-west Pakistan carried out by pro-Taleban militants opposed to Gen Musharraf.

The Supreme Court, which has been hearing an appeal by Mr Chaudhry against his suspension, was expected to announce a verdict as early as Friday.

Ambulances rushed the injured to hospital

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