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Two killed in attack on US consulate vehicle in Pakistan

The site of the attack has been kept cordoned off after the attack. Photo by Zahir Shah Sherazi/Dawn

Publication Date : 04-09-2012

 

Two people were killed and 21 others, among them two Americans, wounded when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a SUV of the US Consulate in Peshawar yesterday.

Initial report suggested that two Americans died in the attack that took place on Abdara Road in University Town in the morning, but government officials and a US embassy spokesman said the US personnel and their two Pakistani guards were injured.

“It was a suicide blast because the engine of the car and parts of the bomber’s body were found at the scene,” city police chief Imtiaz Altaf said.

The powerful explosion had completely destroyed the vehicle, he added.

He said four policemen, two children and a woman were among the injured.

One of the bodies was identified as that of Barkatullah, of Swat. He lived in Civil Quarters Peshawar. Police said he worked for a private organisation and was passing through the area when the blast took place.

The body of another man was beyond recognition.

The injured policeman, Farooq Khan, who was escorting the vehicle, told reporters that he did not know where the Americans were heading. When the vehicle was near the UNHCR office the huge blast took place.

The injured were taken to the Khyber Teaching Hospital and five of them were said to be in serious condition. The foreigners were taken to the US Consulate in another vehicle.

The blast damaged at least 12 houses and offices and a number of vehicles. It also destroyed a transformer which caused suspension of power supply in the area.

Security personnel cordoned off the area and personnel of charity organisations and Rescue 1122 shifted the injured to the hospital and cleared the road.

A bomb disposal official said 100 to 110 kilogrammes of explosives had been used in the blast. Artillery shells had been added to the explosives to maximise its intensity.

“The blast’s intensity can be judged from the fact that the consulate’s vehicle was thrown to the other side of the road and also caught fire,” he said, adding that the blast had left a deep and wide crater.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters immediately after the blast that two Americans were among the five people killed in the blast. But he later revised his statement and said two people had been killed.

Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour also cited reports that at least two foreigners had been killed. Talking to journalists, he said the foreigners were the target of the attack.

He said it was not possible for the government to depute policemen to protect each and every citizen. But, he added, the government would have to find out lapses which led to such attacks.

He assured foreign diplomats living in Peshawar that the government was aware of its duty and taking steps to protect them.

Several US diplomats and officials live in the posh University Town area. It also has offices of some international aid agencies.

A US aid worker was shot dead at his residence in the town in May 2008 and the US Consulate in Peshawar was hit in a brazen daylight terrorist attack in April 2010.

Gunmen had attacked former US diplomat Lynne Tracy in 2008 when she was going to the consulate in an armoured vehicle. She escaped unhurt.

In 2011, a car bomb damaged the consulate’s armoured vehicles in the town but people in them were not hurt.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but it was at least the third time that the US Consulate and its staff have been targeted by militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda since April 2010, AFP adds.

Pakistani security officials said the US vehicle was the target and a half-burnt US passport was recovered from a vehicle after the attack.

Mohammad Sadid, 35, said he was driving to his pharmacy where he worked when he heard a deafening blast on the opposite side of the road in University Town neighbourhood.

“It was so powerful that it jolted my car with a massive jerk. My head banged the steering wheel and the windshield. I couldn’t understand what had happened. I saw a car on fire. It became a large fireball,” he said.

 

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