PESHAWAR: Bombers killed up to six people on Thursday in the city of Peshawar, where a woman suicide attacker blew herself up and roadside explosives struck a police vehicle, officials said.
In the first deadly attacks in the Taliban-hit northwest since the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, a woman threw a hand grenade at a police check post, and then blew herself up, senior police official Shafqat Malik told AFP.
It was only the third time police have confirmed a woman suicide attacker in the nuclear-armed country of 167 million where Taliban and al Qaeda-linked bombers have killed 4,500 people since 2007, destabilising the government.
Dozens were wounded in Thursday’s attacks, carried out several hours apart in the Lahori Gate area of Peshawar, a teeming city of 2.5 million, targeting first a police van and secondly a police checkpost.
“This was a female suicide bomber aged around 17 or 18 who threw a hand grenade on the police checkpost, 20 metres away from the site of the first blast, and then blew herself up,” police official Shafqat Malik told AFP.
“Her vest did not explode completely. She was killed and another woman was also killed and three policemen were injured,” Malik said.
There was initial confusion on whether the second woman was also carrying explosives, but police and medics later said she had not.
“The other woman is more than 60 years old. Her face is completely disfigured and beyond identification. Her body has no sign of wearing a suicide vest. We feel that she was just a passer-by,” Doctor Rahim Afridi told AFP.
He said 16 people were admitted with injuries after the second blast, including a 10-year-old boy.
Women suicide attackers are extremely rare in Pakistan. The explosion struck just metres from the site of an earlier attack that killed four policemen and a child in the Lahori Gate area of Peshawar.
In late June, the Pakistani Taliban claimed for the first time that a married Uzbek couple carried out a suicide attack on a police station that killed 10 officers and threatened further husband-and-wife bombings.
Police said four officers and a child were killed earlier when a bomb hidden in a handcart on the roadside, tore through a passing police van carrying 20 personnel at 7:10 am.
Eighteen other people were wounded, said police official Muhammad Faisal.
Shattered glass, human flesh, blood and police uniforms littered the area after the bomb, an AFP reporter said.
“The police van was carrying 20 policemen,” said Imtiaz Shah, another police official, adding the vehicle was wrecked and that a group of schoolboys had been in the area when the bomb exploded.
“A 12-year-old boy has also been killed,” he said.
Witness Mohabbat Khan, 45, told AFP that volunteers helped police evacuate the casualties after the attack.
“I was at home when I heard the blast. I came out and there were clouds of smoke. Then I saw the dead bodies and injured policemen. I shifted them to a police vehicle which reached at the site soon after the blast,” he said.
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