15 dead in Pakistan blasts

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Islamabad - At least seven people were killed and 15 injured in a suicide car bombing at a security checkpoint in north-western Pakistan, police said Thursday.

An explosives-packed vehicle was rammed into a joint post of police and paramilitary Frontier Constabulary force on Tull-Kurrum Road in Hangu district, said senior police officer, Mian Saeed Ahmad.

“It was suicide car bomb attack which killed three civilians, including two women, two policemen and two paramilitary soldiers of Frontier Constabulary,” Ahmad said.

“The 15 injured include both civilians and security force personnel.”

Private Geo television said that the checkpoint was completely destroyed.

Nobody claimed responsibility but Taliban militants have frequently targeted the forces and ordinary people in the district.

The attack came hours after the twin bombings struck Hasanzai Darra area of the Orakzai tribal region about 30 minutes apart, killing eight civilians and also injuring more than 20 people, local administrative head Mahmood Aslam told dpa by phone.

“First a powerful explosion tore through a bus and around half an hour later another blast hit the site as rescue efforts continued there,” Aslam said. “Both bombs were detonated remotely.”

The bus was travelling to Ferozkhel, a neighbouring area dominated by anti-Taliban tribesmen.

Last week, a bomb at a market in Orakzai's main town of Kalaya killed 14 people.

Earlier Thursday, five Taliban attempted to storm a police station in the nearby Bannu district, but all were killed in a gunfight with the police, who were backed by regular troops, officials said.

Miryan police station head Saadullah Khan told dpa by phone that all the attackers wore explosive vests that detonated during the clash, which injured one soldier.

“Remains of the militants suggested they were foreigners, probably of Uzbek origin,” Khan said.

A rickshaw driver, who allegedly drove the militants to the area, was also killed during the fighting, according to the police officer.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack, and threatened to carry out similar acts in future.

The attack came as leaders of more than two dozen political groups gathered in Islamabad to discuss a joint strategy to face security challenges as well as the militants' recent offer for peace talks.

No formal statement was issued as yet but private media citing sources said that the participants agreed to find a negotiated solution.

Ehsan reiterated the willingness of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella organization of several militant groups, to negotiate with the government earlier this month, but subject to several conditions, including the release of some prominent militant leaders.

The government has not responded to the offer formally. - Sapa-dpa


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