Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Nine soldiers were killed and four injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the North-West Frontier Province town of Kohat, said the Pakistan military on Monday.

The bomber blew himself up around noon near a military sports ground, where according to media reports, the soldiers had been playing football.

The bombing came two days after President Pervez Musharraf lifted emergency rule, citing the government’s success in curbing terrorist incidents as one of the reasons for doing so.

Gen (retd) Musharraf said the Army had been successfully “broken the back” of terrorism in Swat, to the extent that the January 8 elections could now be held in the entire NWFP. On Saturday, hours before the emergency was lifted, a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up at a checkpoint outside an army services centre in Nowshera, another town in NWFP, killing five soldiers.

Information Minister Nisar Memon told journalists on Monday that the government would not allow “international terrorists” and “politically motivated people” to disrupt the polls.

He said the media was free in Pakistan, and termed reports to the contrary as propaganda by the international media. Geo television, the only Pakistani television which is not back yet on the country’s cable network, would be allowed on air when it complied with “the laws that apply to all channels,” he said.

The state-run media had been instructed to give coverage to all parties, Mr. Memon said.