11 killed in terror strikes in Pak

PESHAWAR: Eleven people have died and 15 have been injured in a bombing in Peshawar

in north-western Pakistan, police say.

A suicide bomber attacked a police investigation bureau in the Swati Pathak area, which is close to a Pakistani army garrison. Police officials initially said there were two bombers, including one woman, but later retracted the suggestion.

Security has been tightened nationwide after about 40 people were killed in Lahore and the north-west yesterday.

Those attacks were the latest in a recent wave of brazen

militant assaults across the country. Like yesterday’s bombings, the latest strike appeared to be aimed directly at Pakistan’s police services.

Three officers were among those killed in what appeared to be a twin bomb attack. The upper floor of a nearby mosque was badly damaged and a crater left in the road outside. “First I saw a blue flame then a loud explosion. When I got there I saw six bodies lying on the ground. I helped gather up body parts,” said witness Saadat Changhzi.

Police now believe a woman seen near the scene on a motorcycle was an innocent victim and had been a passenger on a motorcycle travelling behind the car bomb.

The latest wave of attacks comes as Pakistan’s government has been claiming that Taliban militancy is on the back foot, although the army has been more cautious.

But a lull that followed

the killing of the leader of

the Pakistani Taliban Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009 has now decisively ended: in

the past 12 days attacks

across Pakistan have claimed at least 160 lives. Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, has seen regular bomb and gun attacks in recent years.

The city was also targeted yesterday, when a bombing killed a child, and one week ago, when a deadly bomb ripped through a busy city market in the city.

That attack killed at least 49 people in the busy Khyber Bazaar. The city occupies a strategic position on the road to the Afghan border and is the gateway to Pakistan’s tribal regions, long regarded as a haven for Islamist militants.

The latest wave of attacks comes as Pakistan’s military prepares for what the government has said is an imminent assault on the Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan.

Stringent security measures were put in place following yesterday’s attacks - which also mainly targeted police - but could not prevent the latest Peshawar bomb. The success of Friday’s attacks did not appear to weaken official determination to make a stand.

“We have to make sure that we take preventive measures. If we can specifically target the terrorists and their strongholds, such incidents will not happen again,” said Mian Iftikhar, information minister for North West Frontier Province. Around the eastern city of Lahore checkpoints have been installed and a one-way system is in operation

on key roads.

The attacks in Lahore

were the first time this year.

Attackers struck at multiple targets in one city.

It was also the first time simultaneous attacks had ever hit Lahore. Authorities in the capital, Islamabad, have also temporarily banned passengers from riding on the back of motorcycles and bicycles for security reasons.

Meanwhile, many of the police killed in yesterday’s attacks have been buried.

The funerals for 11 policemen killed in one of the attacks, on Lahore’s Manawan police training school, were held last night. Senior state officials and politicians attended the funeral prayers.