Police searched for clues yesterday after a suicide attack at a police officer's funeral killed more than 40 people in volatile northwestern Pakistan, where troops are fighting pro-Taliban militants.
Another suicide bombing yesterday killed one person and wounded 19 in the region, officials said.
More than 60 people were also hurt on Friday night when a bomber blew himself up as some 800 mourners gathered for the funeral of Javed Iqbal, a senior police officer who was killed in a roadside bombing earlier in the day.
Iqbal's 16-year-old son, Ghazan, was among the dead.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Syed Akhtar Ali Shah said an investigation had started.
He said although no one has claimed responsibility, police were confident of arresting those who orchestrated the suicide attack in Mingora, about 170km from Peshawar in the Swat Valley.
District police chief Arshad Majid said 40 bodies were accounted for, but the toll was expected to rise after forensic officials reconstructed body parts.
The suicide bombing was the bloodiest attack in the Swat Valley since militant followers of a pro-Taliban cleric grabbed control of large parts of the scenic corner of Pakistan's restive northwest. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf -- an ally of Washington in its "war on terror" -- sent thousands of troops to Swat in November, but the attacks have persisted.
Yesterday, a suicide bomber struck a vehicle carrying security forces in the northwestern tribal region of Bajur, killing one civilian and wounding 19 people, mostly security personnel, said Iqbal Khatak, a government official.
He said the severed head of the attacker, who was on foot, was found at the scene. All the victims were taken to a hospital where three of them were in critical condition, he said.
Friday's suicide attack was the most serious since the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections in which the Musharraf-allied Muslim League Party was soundly defeated, plunging his political future into uncertainty.
Shahbuddin, an assistant inspector of police, said the explosion occurred just as pallbearers -- including Iqbal's teenage son -- lifted the coffin to carry it toward the grave. Many police officers were at the funeral.
Meanwhile, Pakistani police yesterday formally accused the top Taliban leader in the country and four others of planning the assassination of late opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
Preliminary charges were filed in court against Baitullah Mehsud, who has been named by the Pakistani government in the Dec. 27 killing of Bhutto in a suicide and gun-attack during a public rally. Mehsud is underground and it is not clear if the police are anywhere close to catching him.
"Police submitted preliminary charges in the Bhutto case before an anti-terrorism court and the judge issued non-bailable warrants of arrest against Baitullah Mehsud and four other accused," said Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, the chief investigator.
Although Mehsud was named by President Pervez Musharraf within days of the assassination, the filing of the preliminary charges is the first legal step before an arrest can be made.
Mehsud is the commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban, an umbrella group of Islamic militant groups linked to al-Qaeda.