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Sunday 28 May 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Thibault Camus/AP/Press Association Images US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
# Pakistan
Hillary Clinton arrives in Pakistan to ease tense relations as 32 killed in suicide bombing
Violence has risen in Pakistan since the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden at his compound near the country’s capital. The US Secretary of State made a surprise trip today, aiming to repair frayed relations.

AT LEAST 32 people are dead after a suicide bomber in a pickup truck detonated his explosives near several government offices in northwest Pakistan on Thursday.

It’s the latest round of latest violence to hit the country since the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden earlier the month and came just prior to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton making a surprise visit to the country today.

During the trip, she is seeking to assure Pakistani leaders of US support, attempting to repair badly frayed relations after the killing of Osama bin Laden at his hideout not far from this capital city earlier this month.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Thursday’s devastating attack.

Its devastation was likely to add to criticism of the government, already under fire over the unilateral US operation to kill the Al Qaeda chief and the mounting bloodshed since.

Hangu, where it occurred, is located just outside Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

The tribal areas have long been havens for Al Qaeda and other militants, including Pakistani Taliban fighters, who oppose the Pakistani government because of its alliance with the United States.

The bomb went off near several government buildings, including the district commissioner’s office. Those buildings for the most part escaped the blast, officials said, but many shops and other structures nearby were damaged.

At least 32 people were killed and 56 were wounded, said a Pakistani official, Mir Chaman Khan.

Most of the victims were civilians, including many in a nearby restaurant.

Also, on Thursday a US official said Pakistan has agreed to allow the CIA access to bin Laden’s compound.

Since the raid, Pakistani Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for several major attacks in Pakistan including an extraordinary 18-hour siege of a naval base that killed 10 people, saying they were retaliating for the bin Laden killing.

The attacks have further embarrassed the government and the country’s powerful security establishment.

Amid frustration in both countries with the other’s priorities, Clinton was joined by Admiral Mike Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, to deliver a twofold message.

Clinton told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and other officials that the U.S. maintains “very strong support for the relationship and our commitment to working with and supporting Pakistan.”

But a warning was also hammered home that lower-ranking US officials have been making Pakistan since the bin Laden raid: The billions of dollars in military and development aid that flow to Pakistan annually will dwindle if Pakistan is seen to play both sides.

- AP