Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Female bombers hit Pakistan police at blast site

A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives near police guarding the scene of an explosion earlier Thursday in this northwestern Pakistani city, a rare double-pronged attack that killed four officers and a boy.

Police said a second female suicide bomber is also believed to have been killed in the second explosion

before she could detonate her vest. At least 30 people were wounded in both attacks.

The blasts ended weeks of relative calm in Peshawar, a frequent target of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters hiding in the nearby tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. No group claimed responsibility, but the attacks suggested that militants remain able to strike, despite army operations against them.

Attacking the same area twice — with the second attack targeting police, rescue officials and other first-responders — is a rare, but not unprecedented, tactic in Pakistan. Such double-bombings are more common in Iraq.

In the first incident, a remote-controlled bomb exploded in the Lahori Gate area of the city as a police truck carrying constables about to start their shift drove by. Four police officers and a boy passing by were killed, while 22 people were wounded.

Roughly an hour later, two women approached police guarding the area, officials said. One of the females first threw a grenade, then was able to partially detonate her suicide vest, said Shafqat Malik, a police official with the bomb disposal unit. She appeared to be just 16 or 17 years old, he said.

"We're trying to remove the remainder of the jacket from the body very carefully," he said.

Eight people were wounded in the second attack, including six civilians, police official Tariq Khan said.

While suicide bombings are common in Pakistan, the use of women in the attacks is unusual.

In June, the Pakistani Taliban said they had sent a husband and wife suicide squad to a police station in another northwestern town. That attack killed 10 people. Late last year, a female suicide bomber attacked a World Food Program food distribution center in the region, killing 45.

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