Peshawar suicide bombing kills 17 (Third Lead)

Peshawar, Nov 19 ( At least 17 people were killed and 26 seriously injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main gate of this North West Frontier Province capital’s judicial complex on Thursday in the ninth such attack here in two months.

A large number of lawyers were present in the court complex when a suicide bomber, after being stopped by a police officer, blew himself up, killing 17 people, including three policemen and two lawyers. Several vehicles were destroyed in the blast.

Several important buildings, including the residences of the provincial governor and then chief minister, as also the offices of the ISI spy agency, are located in the Khyber Road area where the incident occurred, Online news agency reported.

The judicial complex is also close to the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel where at least nine people were killed in June when attackers shot their way through a security check post and blew up an explosives-laden truck.

Khyber Road was closed for traffic after the incident and police cordoned off the area. Rescue teams reached the spot and ferried the injured to nearby hospitals.

An official at the Lady Reading Hospital confirmed that 17 people had died in the blast and that five of the injured were in a critical state.

“I was busy at work and then suddenly, I heard gunfire. I saw a man resisting with a policeman at the building and then there was a huge blast. I was thrown to the ground,” one of the injured said in hospital.

According to district coordination officer Sahibzada Anis, the suicide bomber resisted and blew him self up when police deployed at the main gate of the judicial complex stopped him for a search.

According to the bomb disposal squad, around eight to 10 kg of explosive material was used in the suicide attack.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the bomb blast and reiterated their resolve to counter terrorism and not to allow anyone to disrupt peace in the country.

Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a senior NWFP minister, saw a foreign hand in the blasts that have occurred in Peshawar.

Pakistan has been struck by a series of terror attacks since Oct 5, when the latest wave of violence was unleashed by the Taliban which is battling the army in the rugged terrain of South Waziristan.

Thursday’s was the ninth terror attack in Peshawar since early October. Over 225 people have been killed and more than 400 injured in the eight earlier attacks.

The city witnessed this year’s worst terror attack Oct 28 when a massive explosion in a crowded market killed 117 people and injured over 200.

On Oct 9, 50 people were killed in a bomb explosion. Less than a week later Oct 15, one person died in a blast while the very next day 15 people were killed in a major explosion. While the Oct 23 blast left 15 people injured, five days later saw the horrific bombing in bustling Meena Bazar where 117 people died.

On Nov 8, the Taliban struck again with a bombing that left 18 people dead and 39 wounded. On Nov 14, 10 people were killed and 20 injured in a suicide car bombing. Two days later, four people were killed and 30 injured when a suicide bomber detonated his car packed with explosives near a police station in the outskirts of this city.