Terror hits Pak again: Suicide attack kills 14 in Peshawar


Bystanders stand beside the burning wreckage of a car used in a suicide bomb blast after an attack on a police building in Peshawar on Friday. AFP

Taliban militants on Friday kept up an unrelenting wave of terror campaign in Pakistan with a suicide car bomber striking a police station in Peshawar killing 14 people and wounding 16 others.

Targeting the city for the second day in running the bomber rammed his explosive laden car into the police station creating an impact which also severely damaged a nearby mosque and the casualties including two women and a child.

In 12 days of wanton violence, the terrorists have carried out numerous suicide bombing, blasts and attacks, including the storming of Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi and three synchronised attacks on law enforcement establishments in Lahore yesterday leaving a trail of 174 deaths.

With terror toll mounting, Pakistan law enforcement agencies began swoops countrywide in which over 80 people suspected to be involved in the recent spate of deadly strikes, including in the synchronised suicide attacks in Lahore which left 29 people dead have been arrested.

The security agencies have warned of more such strikes in coming days and said they were aimed at scuttling Army's impending major assault on their stronghold of South Waziristan.

The attacker detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside the police station in the cantonment of the North West Frontier Province capital Peshawar. The building housed the office of the Crime Investigation Agency. A nearby mosque was also severely damaged.

NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Bilour said 13 people were killed. Three policemen, two women and a child were among the dead, officials said. Three security personnel were among the injured, they added.      

"It was a suicide attack. The leg of the bomber has been found," NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussian told reporters at the site of the attack. Seven of the injured are in a serious condition, he said.      

"The CIA office and police were the targets of the bomber but many civilians were killed and injured," Hussain said.       

About 60 to 70 kg of explosives were used in the attack, said Additional Inspector General of Police Shafqat Malik of the bomb disposal squad. TV news channels beamed footage of the police station, one of its wall blown out by the explosion.        

Hussian said militants had stepped up attacks in view of the government's plans to launch operations in the Taliban’s stronghold of South Waziristan. "But just as we didn’t accept pressure from the militants when we were conducting operations in Malakand division, we won’t accept pressure now. We will take firm steps to end terrorism," he said.

The security forces continued their pounding of Waziristan using fighter jets and artillery guns to soften the Taliban defences in the area. However, Army has refused to give the timing of the offensive.       

An emergency was declared in all hospitals in Peshawar, where authorities have been on high alert for the past few weeks in the wake of a wave of deadly attacks.

A child was killed and 12 people were injured yesterday in a car bomb attack on a residential colony of Peshawar that is home to a large number of government employees. Hours earlier, a suicide bomber targeted a police station in Kohat town, killing 11 people and injuring over 20.       

The eastern city of Lahore too witnessed three near-simultaneous attacks yesterday on a Federal Investigation Agency office and two police training centres that killed 18 people. Ten attackers were either gunned down by security forces or blew themselves up.

Keen to unravel the extent of involvement of Punjabi militants in the new attacks, security agencies took 36 suspects into custody from Lahore, where Taliban mounted three near-simultaneous terror attacks on security facilities.

Twenty suspects were picked from Gulshan-e-Daud Colony in Manawan, where terrorists targeted a police training centre yesterday. Eleven more were detained from areas on Bedian Road where another training centre came under attack.

Four others were nabbed from Temple Road where a gunman was killed while attacking a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) office, and one more from the cantonment, police said.  The police dragnet stretched to Karachi where authorities arrested 43 suspects, including four who were receiving treatment for gunshot wounds in a hospital. 
        
Militants launched a series of brazen attacks, including an assault on the army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, soon after new Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud vowed to avenge the killing of his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.

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