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Car Bomb in Pakistan Kills Scores as Clinton Visits

BY Quinn Bowman  October 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, AFP/Getty images

This is the latest in a spate of bombings and attacks in Pakistan, where the army is continuing an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents who have a foothold in the western border with Afghanistan. Pakistani officials blamed the attack on those militants.

NewsHour senior correspondent Margaret Warner is traveling with Clinton. She said Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi “both gave a quite emotional response” to the attack at a news conference.

On Wednesday’s NewsHour, Warner provides an update on the attack, Pakistan’s response and what Clinton’s goals are for her first trip to Pakistan as secretary of state.

Here is a preview of Margaret Warner’s conversation with Gwen Ifill:

 

The bombing destroyed a market, collapsing buildings and set shops on fire, according to the Associated Press.

“There was a deafening sound and I was like a blind man for a few minutes,” Mohammad Usman, who was wounded in the shoulder, told the AP. “I heard women and children crying and started to help others. There was the smell of human flesh in the air.”

Clinton was in private meetings with Pakistani officials when the bombing happened.

“I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan’s alone,” Clinton said after the attack. “These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well.”

Clinton repeatedly called the recent attacks “cowardly.”

“If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process,” she said.

“They know they are on the losing side of history,” she continued. “But they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort it is.”

Qureshi echoed her sentiments.

“The resolve and determination will not be shaken,” Qureshi said. “People are carrying out such heinous crimes — they want to shake our resolve. I want to address them: We will not buckle. We will fight you. We will fight you because we want peace and stability in Pakistan.”

Earlier in October, a bomb in Peshawar killed 48 people. The city is close to tribal regions on the Pakistan and Afghan borders. The New York Times reported that Pakistani officials said they were ill-equipped to protect the city from increasing terror attacks.

A government official told the New York Times that the local Lady Reading Hospital was overwhelmed with casualties.

“A state of emergency has been declared at the hospital. We don’t even have time to count the bodies. It’s absolutely mayhem here. We have called for blood donation to meet with the crisis,” the official said.

The Clinton visit is aimed at strengthening relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, which is a nuclear power and seen as an ally with the U.S. in fighting terrorism in the region. President Barack Obama recently signed a bill providing $7.5 billion in aid to the country – a sum the White House called “the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the U.S.”

Pakistani critics have accused the U.S. of meddling in their affairs, however.

“It is unfortunate that there are those who question our motives, who perhaps are skeptical that we are going to commit to a long-term relationship,” Clinton said to reporters traveling with her to Pakistan. “I want to try to clear the air on that while I’m in the country.”