(dpa) - At least 37 people were feared dead and several wounded Friday in a suicide bomb attack in north-west Pakistan during the funeral of a local police official who was among three killed earlier in the day by a roadside bomb, officials said.
Many of the dead and wounded were fellow policemen who had gathered for Muslim funeral prayers for Javed Iqbal, a deputy police superintendent, in his home village of Mangora in the volatile North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) when the attack occurred.
Islamic militants, who frequently target security forces in the province, were immediately suspected of being behind the attack.
The funeral was held on the grounds of a local high school in Mangora, which lies in Swat district, where the Pakistani Army has been trying to flush out armed Islamic militants who had taken over dozens of villages in October 2007.
On Friday morning, suspected Islamic militants killed Iqbal and two fellow policemen by targeting their vehicle with a remote-control bomb in the NWFP's Dera Ismail Khan district.
"He was leaving for the office from his residence when suspected militants targeted his vehicle with a remote control roadside bomb," said Hamza Masud, the district police chief. "The vehicle was completely destroyed."
Dera Ismail Khan lies close to Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, from where Taliban, al-Qaeda and other armed militant groups control many villages.
Pakistan has suffered more than five dozen suicide attacks in the past 13 months that have killed more than 1,000 people in a campaign that escalated after Army commandos stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad to end a siege by armed militants. Hundreds of people were believed to have died in the Army attack.
Opposition parties who swept to power in national elections on February 18 will immediately face the problem of Islamic militancy and suicide bombings that increased during the watch of embattled President Pervez Musharraf.