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Four dead after suicide blast targets police in northwest region

A suicide car bomb exploded near a police station in Pakistan's northwest, killing four people and injuring 11 others Saturday. Police officials said the attack was likely in response to the military offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan.


AFP - A suicide car bomb attack near a police station in troubled northwest Pakistan killed at least four people on Saturday, police said.

The attack took place in Gomal, 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the city of Tank, neighbouring the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan where Pakistani troops are battling Islamist militants.

"The bomber struck ... outside the police station, killing one policeman and three passers-by including two children," district police chief Ejaz Abid told AFP.

He said 11 people including five policemen, three passers-by and three prisoners in the police lock-up were injured.

"This was a car bomb attack, which is a reaction to the ongoing operation in South Waziristan region," Abid added.

Pakistan's military has been focusing its most ambitious military offensive yet against home-grown Taliban militants in the tribal region, deploying about 30,000 troops on October 17.

Despite the offensive, attacks blamed on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) show no sign of abating, with bombings increasingly hitting civilians.

Another senior police official Ghazanfar Hussain also confirmed the incident and casualties.

"I was busy in routine desk work inside the police station when a large blast rocked the entire building," Hussain said.

He added that one of the outer walls of the police station collapsed from the impact of the blast while big cracks appeared in other rooms of the building.

Attacks blamed mostly on the Taliban have killed more than 2,900 people across Pakistan since July 2007, concentrated in the northwest and major cities.

Islamists have carried out the bloody campaign to avenge military offensives and the government's unpopular alliance with the United States in the war against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi condemned Saturday's bombing and "emphasised that terrorism will never be allowed to succeed in its nefarious designs," a foreign ministry statement said.

"Such acts only strengthen our resolve to fight terrorism with more vitality and the government and the people of Pakistan are determined to root out this menace," it added, quoting the minister.

Pakistan has seen security drastically deteriorate since joining Washington's "war on terror" in 2001 and baulks at complaints from US lawmakers that it is not doing enough to tackle militant groups.

Pakistan is also under US pressure to do more to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants along its western border with Afghanistan.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who was in Pakistan on a two-day visit, said on Friday Washington had let down Pakistan in the past and vowed to restore trust with the vital ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda.

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