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AS-Pakistan 3rdLd-Writethru 06-12

Suicide bombers strike Pakistan mosque, seminary

Eds: UPDATES with famous cleric killed, other details; ADDS byline; CHANGES headlines.

By BABAR DOGAR

Associated Press Writer

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Suicide bombers attacked a mosque and a religious school in two Pakistani cities within minutes of each other after traditional Muslim prayers, killing at least two people and wounding dozens, officials said. A prominent anti-Taliban cleric was among the dead.

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No one immediately claimed responsibility for either blast.

Pakistan has been rocked by a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks in recent weeks blamed on militants taking revenge for a military operation against the Taliban in the Swat Valley region.

Among the dead was Sarfraz Naeemi, the senior cleric at the Jamia Naeemia seminary in the eastern city of Lahore. He is a nationally known figure who in the past has been critical of the Taliban.

Police official Sohail Sukhera said the Lahore attack occurred inside offices of the seminary shortly after Friday prayers had finished. At least two people were killed and six wounded, he said.

In Noshehra, a city in the volatile northwestern region about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the capital of Islamabad, a bomb exploded at a mosque in a military cantonment area, said police chief Abdullah Khan. At least 32 people were wounded "and we fear that some of them are dead," he said.

Police said both blasts appeared to be suicide attacks.

The building housing the offices of the seminary had collapsed.

"I can see broken glasses, wrecked buildings and blood stains," said Sukhra.

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Naeemi is considered a pro-government scholar. In recent weeks he headed several meetings of religious leaders to denounce militants for carrying out suicide blasts, and voicing support for the military operation in Swat.

His son Waqar Naeemi said he was critically wounded in Friday’s blast and later died in hospital.

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Associated Press Writers Munir Ahmad and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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