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THE WORLD : 17 killed in suicide bombings in Pakistan : The attacks are the latest against security installations, a sign of militants' resilience despite army offensive.

November 14, 2009|Alex Rodriguez

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — Suicide bomb attacks killed at least 17 people Friday at two security installations in and near the Pakistani city of Peshawar, including a devastating truck bomb at the provincial headquarters of the nation's intelligence agency, underscoring security forces' vulnerability as they struggle to clamp down on a resilient insurgency.

The suicide truck bombing at the Inter-Services Intelligence complex that killed 10 people early Friday was the second militant strike on the country's premier spy agency this year. In May, a van packed with explosives razed the intelligence agency's provincial headquarters and a police building in the eastern city of Lahore, killing more than two dozen people.

The blast in Peshawar, which also injured more than 60 people, was followed an hour later by a suicide car bombing at a police station in Bakkakhel, a village about 75 miles southwest. That blast killed seven people and wounded 27.

The attacks in Peshawar and Bakkakhel were the latest in a series of strikes on security compounds and facilities across Pakistan in recent weeks, as the government prepared and launched a large offensive in South Waziristan to uproot Taliban and Al Qaeda militant strongholds. About 30,000 troops have been deployed.

The boldest of the militant attacks was on the army's headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi on Oct. 10. A team of militants dressed as paramilitary police raided the heavily guarded compound and took scores of officers and civilian workers hostage. Pakistani commandos rescued most of the hostages, but 14 people and nine militants were killed in the 22-hour siege.

Less than a week later, teams of militants carried out near-simultaneous attacks on three security compounds around Lahore, including an elite forces counter-terrorism training center. At least 26 people, including the assailants, were killed in those attacks.

Other attacks on security facilities include a suicide bomb attack on a police station in Peshawar on Oct. 16 that killed 13 people, and another suicide attack Oct. 23 killed seven at an air force complex west of Islamabad, the capital.

In the Peshawar blast Friday, authorities said a truck loaded with 600 pounds of explosives drove up to the front gate of the intelligence agency's regional headquarters, a complex in one of the city's most heavily guarded areas. Guards fired at the truck, but the bomber was able to detonate the explosives, which razed most of the agency's three-story building.

The blast occurred about 6:45 a.m. Mir Wais, a 35-year-old taxi driver, and his daughters were injured by the explosion as he was driving them to the nearby town of Swabi. His children -- Rana, 6, and Khwaga, 5 -- lay in beds at Lady Reading Hospital, their faces and hands heavily bandaged.

"Life's becoming so difficult for us," said their grandmother, Bas Bano, 55, as she sat beside them. "Our men can't go to work to earn money for their families because of the bomb blasts. The father of these children, he can't go to the markets to get groceries because of the explosions."

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alex.rodriguez@latimes.com

Special correspondent Zulfiqar Ali contributed to this report.

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