Veiled suicide bomber kills 15 in Pakistan

Peshawar, October 1:

A suicide bomber disguised in a woman’s burqa struck at a police checkpost in northwestern Pakistan today, killing at least 15 people including four policemen, officials said.

The blast happened on the outskirts of Bannu, a key garrison town near Pakistan’s troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where the army is battling Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

“A man disguised in a burqa got out of an autorickshaw when police stopped the vehicle for a search at a checkpoint. He then blew himself up,” police officer Asar Islam told AFP.

Fifteen bodies had been brought to the local hospital, four of them women, and medics were treating 31 wounded people, some of who were critically injured, Dr Mohammad Usman said.

“We have received some severed limbs and we are trying to ascertain if they belonged to the bomber,” he said. Four policemen were among the dead, police officer Islam added.

Police sources said they had earlier received intelligence that male suicide bombers dressed in burqas would soon launch attacks.

They had beefed up security at all checkpoints and the vehicle carrying the bomber was intercepted as a result, but the attacker blew himself up before they could check it, one source said.

Chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad confirmed the blast but dismissed earlier witness reports that the bombing targeted a military convoy passing through the town. “It was a suicide attack. It was not targeted at any military convoy,” he told AFP.