Suicide bomber targets police in north-west Pakistan
Security forces in Pakistan say at least 19 people, including nice police officers, have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a police station in the country's north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
AFP - At least 19 people were killed and 45 wounded when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police station in northwest Pakistan on Monday, destroying the building, police said.
Nine policemen and four schoolchildren were among those killed by the attack in Lakki Marwat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, not far from tribal areas that are a stronghold of the Taliban, police said.
At least 110 people have been killed over the past week as militants step up their attacks across the country.
"Nineteen people have died in this suicide attack, the target was the police station," provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters in the regional capital Peshawar.
Four schoolchildren, aged between nine and 10 died in the massive explosion, police said.
"Three schoolboys and a girl also died, they were waiting for their school van," district police chief Gul Wali Khan told AFP by telephone.
Some 20 policemen were among those wounded by the blast which destroyed the police station and damaged a nearby administrative building.
There were some 45 policemen inside the building when the bomber struck.
The police chief said rescue workers had recovered all those trapped under the rubble after the building collapsed.
Doctor Ghulam Ali, medical superintendent of Lakki Marwat's main hospital, told AFP by telephone that 17 bodies and 45 wounded had been brought to his hospital, which was also damaged in the blast.
Police said the bomber hit the back of the police station because the front and side walls of the building were heavily protected with sand bags.
Police cordoned off the whole area after the incident and launched a search operation to avert further attacks.
Local TV footage showed the destroyed building and shops and a mosque damaged by the blast.
Hussain warned they were standing on a powderkeg "and if effective action is not taken, it will be a failure of the government".
"Terrorists are regrouping, they need to be hit hard," the minister said.
Monday's attack is not the first to hit Lakki Marwat district.
In January a suicide bomber killed 99 people when he rammed his car into a crowd of men, women and children watching a volleyball tournament in Shah Hasan Khan village.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the latest attack but the Pakistani Taliban has been blamed for similar suicide bombings.
The group Friday vowed to carry out further attacks inside Pakistan and against the United States and Europe after the US State Department added it to a blacklist of foreign terrorist organisations.
Militants have launched a series of attacks as Muslims mark the final days of the holy fasting month of Ramadan even as the country struggles to deal with massive flooding that has killed nearly 1,800 people and left millions reliant on aid handouts.
On Friday, a suicide bomber killed at least 59 people at a Shiite Muslim rally in Quetta, capital of the southwest province of Baluchistan.
That attack came just days after three suicide bombers killed 31 people and wounded hundreds more during a Shiite mourning procession in Lahore. The attack was subsequently claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
Northwest Pakistan suffers from chronic insecurity, largely connected to the semi-autonomous tribal belt near Afghanistan, which Washington calls the most dangerous place on Earth and a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.
More than 3,700 people have been killed in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions, many of them carried out by the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists, in Pakistan during the last three years.