A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives-laden vest near police guarding the scene of a bombing earlier yesterday morning in the northwestern city of Peshawar, authorities said. Five officers and a boy died in the first blast, while both attacks wounded at least 30 people.
Police said a second female suicide bomber is also believed to have been killed in the second explosion before she could detonate her vest.
The blasts ended weeks of relative calm in Peshawar, a frequent target of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters hiding in the nearby tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. No group claimed responsibility, but the attacks suggested that militants remain able to strike, despite army operations against them.
Attacking the same area twice — with the second attack targeting police, rescue officials and other first-responders — is a rare, but not unprecedented, tactic in Pakistan. Such double-bombings are more common in Iraq.
Female suicide bombers, too, are rarely seen in Pakistan.
In the day’s second attack, one of the burqa-clad females first threw a grenade, then was able to partially detonate her suicide vest, said Shafqat Malik, a police official with the bomb disposal unit. She appeared to be just 16 or 17 years old, he said.
“We’re trying to remove the remainder of the jacket from the body very carefully,” he said.
Senior police official Imtiaz Khan said the first explosion was caused by a remote-controlled bomb that went off in the Lahori Gate area of the city as a police truck drove by. The truck was carrying police constables who were about to start their daily shift. Some 22 people were wounded, many of them police.
Eight people were wounded in the attack by the suicide bombers, six of them civilians, police official Tariq Khan said.
The bombings came a day after a US missile strike in the North Waziristan tribal region killed 20 militants believed linked to the Haqqani network, a Taliban-linked militant faction fighting in Afghanistan.