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Investigators yesterday examined the site of a suicide blast that targeted police in the nation's capital as officials sorted out clues about the alleged attacker.

No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion that left at least 19 people dead and dozens wounded. It appeared to be the capital's deadliest suicide attack in about a year.

The blast, which occurred at an intersection near a police station, unnerved the usually tranquil city. It took place the same day that thousands of Islamists marked the one-year anniversary of a military siege on the nearby radical Red Mosque.

Politicians, including President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani decried the attack, one of many in Pakistan that have victimised security forces.

"This is against humanity," Gilani told reporters Monday after visiting some of the victims at an Islamabad hospital. "The law will take the culprits in its grip."

Asif Ali Zardari, head of the main ruling party, insisted the attack "would only strengthen the resolve of the government to confront the militants and extremists head on." But the attack also promised to raise more concern about government moves to strike peace deals with militants.

Hours after the blast, Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told Geo TV that a teenage boy was the suspected attacker, though earlier he said it was a man apparently in his 30s.

"All witnesses say that a 15- or 16-year-old boy, who had a light beard and wore a white (traditional dress) ... came walking toward our police and blasted himself," Malik said.

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