Thursday, May 28, 2009

Suicide Attack, Market Blasts Hit Peshawar

Via Guardian UK -

Militants detonated two bombs in a busy market and attacked two police checkpoints in northern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 14 people, wounding scores more and testing the resolve of the government as it takes on the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

The attacks in Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan happened within two hours of each other and a day after an assault on security forces in the eastern city of Lahore killed around 30 people. That strike was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, which warned of further attacks unless the government called off the Swat offensive.

"Our targets are security forces, who are killing innocent people in Swat and other adjoining areas," said Hakimullah Mehsud, a deputy to Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. "We regret that some innocent people were also killed in the Lahore attack, we did not want that."

Two bombs in Peshawar were mounted on motorcycles and exploded within seconds of each other, tearing off walls and shattering windows of a row of small shops at a popular market, police and witnesses said.

"It was a sudden blast and then there was fire all around, a cloud of smoke filled the sky," said Khair Uddin, a shopkeeper whose hands and chest were left bloodied by shrapnel from the blast.

Officer Zarman Shah Khan said six people were killed; a doctor at a local hospital said 80 people were wounded.

Commando units rushed to the scene and engaged in a gunfight with suspected militants who holed up in a building near the market, local police chief Malik Naveed said. Two gunmen were shot dead and at least one other was arrested.

Less than half an hour later, a suspected suicide bomber blew up a police checkpoint on the outskirts of the city, killing four police and the attacker, said police officer Yaseen Khan.

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