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Suicide Attacks By Taliban Kill 16 People In NWFP

PTI 26 Sep 2009, 9:25:28 IST

Two suicide attacks within a span of few hours rocked provincial capital of Peshawar and a nearby town in Pakistan's restive NWFP killing 16 people and leaving over 130 others wounded, as the Taliban claimed responsibility and vowed to carry out more such strikes. 

Terrorists used explosive laden vehicles first to hit a police station near Bannu town, killing six people and injuring 60 others, mostly policemen, officials said. 

Five hours later, in another brazen attack militants blew up bomb filled vehicle on the main road leading to Peshawar's military cantonment, outside an army affiliated Askari Bank in the commercial area of the town, killing another ten people and injuring 70 others, police said. 

Police fear that the toll may rise higher as lot of people remained buried under the debris. The Peshawar blast also damaged nearby buildings and blew up 30 cars parked in the area. 

TV News channels beamed footage of victims with blood being taken away from the site of the blast. Officials said two suspects were arrested soon after the explosion. 

The suicide bomb attacks came as US drones struck Pakistan's lawless tribal belt bordering Afghanistan four times this month, killing over 40 Talibans and foreign militants including dreaded terrorist Illyas Kashmiri.

Pakistan's umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) organisation claimed responsibility and threatened to unleash bigger attacks on government targets to avenge the killing of their leader Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack. 

The group's spokesman Qari Hussain Mehsud claimed the responsibility for the bombing in Bannu in telephone calls to the media in Peshawar. He said the government had been taking advantage of the Taliban's "silence" and the militants would carry out more suicide bombings and "powerful" attacks in the coming days. 

Qari Hussain, who is known as the trainer of suicide bombers, warned civilians to stay away from police and security force installations. 

Today's attacks proved that the Taliban continue to have the power to strike almost at will despite the death of their commander Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack last month and the advances made by the Pakistan Army in anti-militancy operations in the Swat valley and other tribal areas. 

Several buildings and a mosque were severely damaged by the blast at the police station in Bannu which created a eight-foot-deep crater. 

Over 60 people, many of them policemen, were injured. Officials said they feared some policemen could still be buried in the rubble. 

The Peshawar explosion occurred shortly before noon and damaged several buildings at the crowded Saddar area in the cantonment in Peshawar. About 30 vehicles were also destroyed by the blast. PTI