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On Monday, a suicide bomber struck the home of a prominent politician in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, an area that borders Afghanistan and that has become the site of ever-increasing attacks by the Taliban, Pakistan's English-language newspaper, The Nation, reports:
A suicide bomber killed 26 people and over 70 others were injured, many of them critically, on Monday in the latest attack to underscore the threat posed by Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.
The attacker blew himself up in a crowd of people at the house of Rashid Akbar Khan Nawani, an MNA [member of the National Assembly] from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, in the town of Bhakkar, police and hospital officials said.
Last week, Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of a secular party that competes with Islamic militants for support among ethnic Pashtuns, escaped injury in a suicide bombing at a gathering in his family compound in Pakistan's troubled northwest. On Sunday, suspected insurgents fired rockets at the home of a senior official in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, where much of the recent violence has been centered.
The escalating violence comes amid reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been trying unsuccessfully to negotiate with Taliban leaders, with Saudi Arabia as an intermediary. The Financial Times reported last week:
Mr Karzai said his envoys had travelled to Saudi -Arabia and neighbouring Pakistan to try to kick-start negotiations that are increasingly seen as the only solution to the violent insurgency gripping Afghanistan.
...Nawaz Sharif is playing a key role in conjunction with Saudi Arabia in bringing about a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the Karzai regime to pave the way for withdrawal of the US and Nato forces from Afghanistan....
"Nawaz Sharif was invited by Saudi King Abdullah and he undertook the present visit to stay in Saudi Arabia for nearly two weeks to talk about the nitty-gritty of the peace process," the source said.