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Asia-pacific

Third suicide attack in two days kills seven in Kohat

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-18

A suicide bomber struck the town of Kohat, Pakistan, Sunday, killing seven people and wounding 26. It is the third such attack in the region in two days, after an earlier attack today and twin blasts near a displacement camp Saturday.

AFP - Seven people were killed Sunday 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 42 people were killed by two suicide bombers dressed in burqas -- was a police station but the bomber exploded his car early after officers tried to stop him.

"The bomber exploded his vehicle at the back of the police station," city police chief Dilawar Khan Bangash told AFP.

All the dead were civilians, he added.

In all, 26 people were injured in the latest blast, Abdullah Jan, the district's top police officer, told reporters, adding: "These incidents are a reaction to the military operation in the tribal areas."

The attack destroyed three rooms of the police station in the garrison city and three rooms in a government-run primary school for boys, as well as vehicles and seven shops, police said.

Saeed Akbar, a watchman employed at a school also damaged in the attack, told AFP he rushed inside after sensing danger when the driver failed to stop his car despite police efforts to flag him down.

"I rushed back inside the school and suddenly a huge blast happened. The outer wall of the school fell on me, but myself with the grace of God was in my senses," he said while being treated for minor injuries.

Fida Hussain, a 30-year-old shopkeeper who suffered a shrapnel wound to his forehead, told AFP: "I saw a blue flame after the deafening blast. Something hit me on my forehead and I fell to the ground."

Sunday's attack came a day after two suicide bombers dressed in burqas struck a crowd of displaced people collecting aid handouts. Police said that 42 people were killed and more than 60 wounded.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reiterated Pakistan's commitment to fighting extreme Islamists in the northwest as he addressed army officers during the country's biggest war games in two decades.

"Pakistan and its armed forces are fully committed in a fierce struggle on its western border and are continuing to retain their capability to deal with all possible threats in the region," he told the gathering in Punjab province.

"I urged world leaders to come forward and share the responsibility in helping us fight the menace of terrorism for global peace," he added.

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.

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

In the two attacks on Saturday the bombers struck minutes apart in the Kacha Pukha camp on the outskirts of Kohat, a registration centre for people fleeing Taliban violence and Pakistani army operations close to the Afghan border.

The attacks reflected 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.

The United Nations says 1.3 million people are currently displaced in the northwest.

The "Azm-e-Nau-3" military exercise, which translates as "New Resolve" in English, started on April 10 and will continue until May 20, mobilising up to 50,000 troops.

The audience watched artillery, cobra helicopter gunships and Pakistani Air Force fighters being put through their paces.
 

Date created : 2010-04-18

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