Mon, Apr 19, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Car suicide blast kills seven in NW Pakistan: police

DEADLY REPRISALPolice say the series of attacks are revenge for the Pakistani army’s increased operations in tribal areas in the northwest under US pressure

AFP , PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

Seven people were killed yesterday in the third suicide attack in 24 hours in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Kohat, which has become home to thousands fleeing rampant violence.

Police said the target of the latest strike — hours after 41 people were killed in a double-suicide attack — was a police station, but the bomber exploded his car early after officers attempted to stop him.

“It was a suicide attack, the target was a police station,” said Dilawar Khan Bangash, city police chief. “The bomber exploded his vehicle on the back side of the police station.”

“Seven people have been killed and 26 were injured in this car suicide attack,” said Abdullah Jan, the district’s top police officer. “These incidents are a reaction to the military operation in the tribal areas.”

Under US pressure, Pakistan has in the past year significantly increased operations against militants in its tribal belt, which became a stronghold for hundreds of extremists who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion.

Another senior police officer confirmed yesterday’s attack, ­adding that about 200kg of explosives were used.

The attack badly damaged the building and destroyed three rooms of the police station in the garrison city. The blast also destroyed three rooms inside a nearby government-run primary school for boys, police said.

“All those killed in the attack were civilians. There are six policemen among the injured,” Bangash said.

Two cars, a tractor and a motorcycle were also badly damaged while seven nearby shops were destroyed. The blast left a crater of 2m in the ground, police said.

It comes just a day after two suicide bombers dressed in burqas struck a crowd of displaced people collecting aid handouts, killing at least 41 and wounding more than 60 at a nearby camp.

The bombers struck minutes apart on Saturday in the Kacha Pukha camp on the outskirts of Kohat, a registration center for people fleeing the fighting between the Taliban Pakistani army close to the Afghan border.

The attacks underscored the grave threat posed by extremists despite the stepped-up Pakistani offensives and a significant increase in US drone attacks targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked commanders in the nearby tribal belt.

Pakistan’s latest military offensive and ongoing extremist violence have displaced at least 210,000 people from the tribal districts of Orakzai and Kurram, most of whom have registered in Kohat and Hangu towns.

Northwest Pakistan suffers from chronic insecurity largely connected to the neighboring semi-autonomous tribal belt, which Washington calls the most dangerous place on Earth and a global headquarters of al-Qaeda.

Taliban violence and military offensives concentrated on flushing out armed Islamists have led to a major internal displacement of people.

The UN says 1.3 million people are currently displaced.

A campaign of suicide and bomb attacks has killed more than 3,200 people in less than three years across the nuclear-armed country of 167 million, blamed on al-Qaeda, Taliban and other extremist Islamist groups.

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