Tuesday, August 20

80 killed in Taliban revenge attack

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DEADLIEST ATTACK: Paramilitary forces investigate at the site of the suicide bomb blast in Charsadda. — Reuters photo

Some 40 others fighting for their lives after suicide bombing on Pakistan police training centre

SHABQADAR, Pakistan:Pakistan’s Taliban yesterday claimed their first major attack to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death as 80 people were killed in a double suicide bombing on a paramilitary police training centre.

Around 140 people were wounded, 40 of them fighting for their lives, in the deadliest attack this year in the nuclear-armed country where the government is deep in crisis over the killing of the al-Qaeda chief by US forces on May 2.

The explosions detonated in northwest Pakistan as newly-trained paramilitary cadets, dressed in civilian clothes, were getting into buses for a 10-day leave, police said.

“This was the first revenge for Osama’s martyrdom.

Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Under Hakimullah Mehsud, who replaced Baitullah Mehsud as leader of the group after he was killed by a US missile in 2009, the Pakistani Taliban has been seen as increasingly inspired by al-Qaeda in waging mass-casualty attacks.

The bombers blew themselves up in Shabqadar town outside the biggest Frontier Constabulary training centre in the northwest, where Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants repeatedly attack security forces.

The town is close to Mohmand, which is in the lawless tribal belt that Washington has branded the headquarters of al-Qaeda and where CIA drones carry out missile strikes on Taliban and other Islamist militant commanders.

Ahmad Ali, a wounded paramilitary policeman, recalled the horror when the explosions turned a festive yesterday morning into a bloodbath.

“I was sitting in a van waiting for my colleagues.

We were in plain clothes and we were happy we were going to see our families,” he told AFP by telephone from Shabqadar hospital.

“I heard someone shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ and then I heard a huge blast. I was hit by something in my back shoulder.

In the meantime, I heard another blast and I jumped out of the van. I felt that I was injured and bleeding.”

Bashir Ahmed Bilour, senior minister for Khyber Paktunkhwa province, said 80 people had been killed, including 69 FC men and 11 civilians, making it the deadliest attack in Pakistan since July 9, 2010 when bombers killed 105 people in Mohmand.

Doctors in Peshawar’s Lady Reading hospital said they were struggling to save the lives of more than 40 critically wounded paramilitary policemen and had declared a state of emergency to cope with the scale of the casualties.

“Both attacks were suicide attacks.

The first suicide bomber came on a motorcycle and detonated his vest among the Frontier Constabulary men,” said the police chief of the Charsadda district, Nisar Khan Marwat.

“When other FC people came to the rescue to help their colleagues, the second bomber came on another motorcycle and blew himself up.”

In August 2010, the then chief of Pakistan’s Frontier Constabulary, Sifwat Ghayoor, was killed in a suicide bombing in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The Taliban last week threatened to attack security forces to avenge Osama’s killing. – AFP