Two bomb attacks strike police in Pakistan

A car bomb ripped through police headquarters in Islamabad wounding at least seven people while a roadside bomb hit a police prison van and a school bus, killing 10, in northwest Pakistan.


A suicide attack struck a police complex in Islamabad and a roadside bomb killed 10 people in Pakistan's northwest on Thursday, underscoring the growing threat posed by Islamist militants.

The blasts happened as intelligence chiefs held a rare briefing for parliamentarians in Islamabad on the fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists who are launching attacks from hideouts near the Afghan border.

In Islamabad, seven people were injured when a suspected militant blew up a car bomb outside an anti-terrorist squad building. The blast ripped off the facade of the red-brick building, an AFP correspondent said.

"A team of police commandos left the building minutes before and that led to confusion over the casualty toll, but now all of them are accounted for and we have seven injured," police inspector Ehsan Khan told AFP.

Islamabad police chief Asghar Gardezi told reporters that police were probing whether the bomber had tricked his way into the heavily guarded complex using a ruse of delivering candy to policemen.

"A green car entered and parked in front of the anti-terrorist building. The driver got out and presented two baskets of sweets to the officials sitting at the reception desk. It was followed by a big explosion," Gardezi said.

Body parts were found at the scene which may have belonged to the bomber, he said.

Emergency workers in orange jackets clambered over a huge pile of rubble to check for any people trapped inside. The blast exposed the interior of the building, collapsed a staircase and left a large crater.

The bombing comes less than three weeks after a suicide truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, one of the worst terror attacks in Pakistan's history, in which 60 people were killed.

It also happened despite a huge security deployment in Islamabad to protect parliamentarians on the second day of a closed-doors session at which security chiefs outlined their strategy for tackling militancy.

Shortly after the Islamabad blast, a remote-controlled bomb hit a police prison van and a school bus in the Upper Dir region of northwestern Pakistan, police and a government official said.

Three school children, four policemen and three prisoners died in the attack, they said.

"The van was carrying prisoners to jail after court proceedings when the roadside remote-controlled bomb went off," local mayor Sahibzada Tariqullah said, confirming the deaths of the policemen and the prisoners.

Senior police official Khurshid Khan said the three children were killed as their school bus was driving past at the time of the blast.

Upper Dir borders on Swat, a former tourist region dubbed the "Switzerland of Pakistan" where security forces have been battling pro-Taliban militants who tried to enforce harsh Sharia law a year ago.

Pakistani fighter jets and helicopter gunships Thursday destroyed a Taliban facility in Swat, causing "heavy casualties", officials said. Five civilians also died in crossfire between troops and militants in Swat, they said.

Violence linked to Pakistan's role in the US-led "war on terror" has claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people in suicide and bomb attacks since July 2007.

Many of the attacks have targeted police and the security forces.

New President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, is under pressure at home to end the violence, and also faces intense US pressure to wipe out militant "safe havens" in the tribal belt.

Senior US General David Petraeus warned last month that Pakistan faces an "existential threat" from extremists.

Tensions on the border have risen amid a spike in US missile attacks on militant hideouts in Pakistan and a US special forces raid in September that left 15 Pakistanis dead.

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