12 policemen killed in Pak suicide blast

The bomber climbed over a wall and entered a ground in the police station in Mingora, the main city in Swat district, where about 60 personnel were being trained, and blew himself up. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said at least 12 policemen were killed. Other officials said more than 25 personnel were also injured.     

Personnel of a special police force, comprising members of the local community and retired army men, were being trained at the police station. Policemen deployed at several check posts near the police station started firing after the blast, causing shops in nearby markets to shut down. The firing continued for some time.     

The police station is located at Nishat Chowk, a busy square where a large number of people were present. Curfew was imposed in Mingora soon after the blast. This was the third suicide attack on the police station. The attack occurred despite security forces in Mingora being on high alert.

A semblance of normalcy had returned to most parts of Swat, located about 160 km from Islamabad, after the army regained control of areas held by Taliban fighters led by Maulana Fazlullah. No group claimed responsibility for today's attack though the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan recently said it would carry out strikes to avenge the killing of its chief Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack earlier this month.

On Thursday last, 22 personnel of a tribal militia were killed and over 25 others injured when a suicide bomber targeted a check post near the Afghan border in the Khyber tribal region.      

Provincial Information Minister Hussain said the NWFP government would not be cowed down by such attacks. "We are not afraid. Our 'jehad' to end terrorism will continue even if such attacks increase," he told reporters. "Terrorists will continue carrying out attacks and we should be prepared. There could be attacks in Peshawar or Islamabad at any time though they will focus on Malakand and Mingora as their back has been broken here," he said.     

"They (terrorists) are close to being wiped out and we want to tell the people that they should be prepared and should not lose courage. Now even the public is exposing the militants' hideouts and attacking them," Hussain added.

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