Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bomb Blast in Peshawar Thrilles Pakistan


A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a court building in Peshawar on Thursday, killing at least 15 people, Officials said, in the latest of a series of attacks on the northwestern Pakistan city.

The city, near the Afghan border, has been targeted several times since the army began an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan last month and militants stepped up retaliatory attacks.

"The attacker was on foot and blew himself when guards tried to search him at the gates of the court," senior city administrator Sahibzada Anis told reporters.

At least 15 bodies had been brought in to Peshawar's main hospital along with about 25 wounded people after Thursday's attack at the court complex, said senior hospital official and doctor Sahib Gul. Three policemen were among the dead, said Anis.

The court is across a road from the city's top hotel, which was attacked by a suicide car-bomber in June. A security agency building on the same road was attacked last week.

The army went on the offensive in South Waziristan on the Afghan border on Oct. 17, aiming to root out Pakistani Taliban militants who stepped up their war on the security forces in 2007. The militants have responded with intensified attacks in towns and cities, in particular in Peshawar, killing several hundred people.

The United States, weighing options for how to turn an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan, has welcomed the offensive but is keen to see Pakistan tackle Afghan Taliban factions based in lawless enclaves along the border.

Earlier, Pakistani security officials said a US drone aircraft fired two missiles into a northwestern militant stronghold killing four people. The late night attack was in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, about 20 km (12 miles) west of the town of Miranshah, the intelligence agency and paramilitary force officials said.

The identity of the four people killed and six people wounded was not known, said the officials, who declined to be identified. North Waziristan is a stronghold of Taliban militants and their al-Qaida allies. The United States has carried out 44 attacks with its pilotless, missile-firing aircraft in northwest Pakistan this year as it forces in neighbouring Afghanistan have faced an intensifying Taliban insurgency. There were 32 such strikes last year, according to a Reuters tally of reports from Pakistani security agents, government officials and residents.

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