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Car bomb targets U.S. consulate vehicles in Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for the attack, which killed a bystander. The bombing comes nearly three weeks after Bin Laden's death.

May 19, 2011|By Alex Rodriguez | Los Angeles Times
  • A Pakistani police official inspects the wreckage of a U.S. consulate vehicle after a car bomb blast in Peshawar.
A Pakistani police official inspects the wreckage of a U.S. consulate vehicle… (A. Majeed, AFP/Getty Images )

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A car bomb blast targeted two U.S. consulate vehicles in the northwest city of Peshawar on Friday, killing a Pakistani bystander and slightly injuring Americans inside the cars.

Pakistani police officials said the car, a parked Suzuki filled with 110 pounds of explosives, was detonated by remote control. U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said the explosion damaged one of the two armored vehicles. The two-car convoy, headed from Peshawar's University Town neighborhood to the consulate, was not carrying any high-ranking officials. Pakistani television reported that the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

The attack comes nearly three weeks after the U.S. commando raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the military city of Abbottabad May 2. Afterward, Taliban militants vowed to avenge bin Laden's death with attacks on both American and Pakistani targets. On May 13, twin suicide bomb blasts killed at least 80 paramilitary force recruits at a base in Shabqadar, a town near the edge of Mohmand, a tribal area where Pakistani troops have struggled for years to rein in Pakistani Taliban militants.

The bombers targeted scores of Frontier Constabulary paramilitary recruits who had just completed six months of training and were boarding vans outside the center's main gate before going on a 10-day leave, police and survivors said.

Located just east of the country's tribal areas where militant groups maintain strongholds, Peshawar is frequently the site of suicide bomb attacks carried out by Pakistani Taliban insurgents and other militant groups that target the Pakistani government and its citizens because of the country's alliance with the U.S.

Militants have attacked the U.S. presence in Peshawar in the past. In April 2010, Taliban militants launched an attack of suicide bomb blasts and barrages of grenades on the heavily guarded U.S. consulate compound in Peshawar. The attacked failed to penetrate the facility, but five security personnel were killed. And in August 2008, the top American diplomat in Peshawar survived an attack by gunmen on her armored vehicle.

Special correspondent Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar contributed to this report.

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