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Coordinated bomb attacks kill at least six in Peshawar, Pakistan

A remote-controlled bomb and a suicide bomber target police in volatile Peshawar, a city on the edge of Pakistan's tribal belt along the Afghan border, where militants maintain strongholds.

August 12, 2011|By Alex Rodriguez and Nasir Khan, Los Angeles Times
  • At a hospital in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, colleagues assist a policeman who survived an attack by a remote-controlled bomb that killed at least 5 people at a police checkpoint.
At a hospital in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, colleagues assist a policeman… (Fayaz Aziz, Reuters )

Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan — A coordinated attack consisting of a remote-controlled bomb and a female suicide bomber killed at least six people Thursday in the volatile northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, ending a stretch of relative calm there.

The blasts occurred at a police checkpoint in the city of 1.4 million people on the edge of Pakistan's tribal belt along the Afghan border, where Taliban militants and their allies maintain strongholds. Plagued by scores of suicide bomb attacks in recent years, Peshawar recently has experienced a lull in militant violence.

Police said the remote-controlled bomb exploded near a police truck, killing at least four police officers and a nearby child. Several people were injured, most of them police officers.

When police and rescue workers converged on the scene, a teenage female suicide bomber wearing a burka approached and threw a hand grenade at police before detonating her explosives-filled vest, said Shafqat Malik, a senior Peshawar police official. That explosion killed a nearby woman and injured three police officers. Malik said the vest only partially detonated.

Malik said the first blast was meant to draw a large crowd for the suicide bomber to attack. "They have adopted this method of targeting rescue teams, the media and police," he said.

Islamic militants' use of women in suicide bomb attacks is rare but not unprecedented. In December, a burka-clad suicide bomber attacked a United Nations food distribution center in the Bajaur tribal region along the Afghan border, killing 43 people. In June, the Pakistani Taliban claimed it had armed a husband and wife with grenades, machine guns and suicide bomb vests to carry out an attack on a police station in the northwestern village of Kolachi. That attack killed 10 people.

Militants at times rely on women in suicide bomb attacks because they believe male police officers will be less likely to search them.

alex.rodriguez@latimes.com

Khan is a special correspondent.

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