21 killed, over 40 injured in suicide attack in Pak

A suicide bomber struck at a police residential colony, killing at least 21 and injuring over 40 others.

Peshawar: A suicide bomber struck at a
police residential colony, killing at least 21 people,
including women and children, and injuring over 40 others, at
Kohat in northwest Pakistan today.

The attacker detonated an explosive-laden vehicle
shortly after `iftar`, the evening meal to break the fast
during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

A majority of the 25 flats in the colony collapsed due
to the powerful blast, which was heard from several kilometres

At least 21 people were killed in the blast and over
40 have been injured, officials said.

Police officials said 21 bodies have been pulled out
of the rubble of collapsed buildings, including six children
and eight women.

They said six to seven people are still feared to be
buried in the debris.

Rescue operation is still underway and the status of
the persons buried inside is unclear, raising fears that the
toll could still go up.

The attack came a day after another suicide bomber
targeted a police station in Lakki Marwat district of
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, killing 20 people, including
policemen and children.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attack but suspicion immediately turned to Taliban militants,
who are believed to be behind a wave of suicide attacks across
Pakistan in the past week.

Bashir Bilour, senior minister in the Khyber-
Pakhtunkhwa government, said over 40 people, including women
and children, were injured.

Bilour confirmed that the attack was carried out by a
suicide bomber.

Witnesses said they had seen a suspicious vehicle in
the vicinity of the police colony before the blast.

Kohat Commissioner Khalid Khan told the media that the
actual target of the attacker may have been the Police Lines,
located near the residential colony.

However, the bomber must have been unable to hit the
Police Lines due to extensive security arrangements and
blockades, he said.

Power supply to the area was disrupted by the blast,
affecting rescue operations.

Rescue workers faced difficulty in clearing the rubble
due to lack of heavy machinery.

Police cordoned off the area and launched a search

The injured were rushed to hospitals in Kohat, which
declared an emergency.

TV channels quoted their sources as saying that
intelligence agencies had issued a warning that militants
could carry out terrorist attacks across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
province in the run up to the Eid-ul-Fitr festival.

Police in Kohat had stepped up patrolling and checking
at check posts over the past few days following reports of
possible attacks.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar
Hussain said militants were targeting security agencies
because the police had played a key role in targeting the
Taliban and their networks.

"This attack was carried out to strike fear among the
police but our jihad against the militants will continue," he

"They are animals who attack during the floods and in
Ramzan. They do not have any respect for mosques or funerals.
They are killers of humanity and no compassion should be shown
to them," he said.

Though the militants were weakened by military
operations against them, they got a chance to regroup after
the government`s attention was diverted by the devastating
floods that swept Pakistan, Hussain said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack
in Kohat and said such acts of terrorism would "further
strengthen public resolve to eradicate the menace of

He said the terrorists had "no respect for the
peaceful religion of Islam or any sense of humanity".

"While the nation is passing through difficult times
due to devastating floods, these coward criminals have
mercilessly killed innocent Muslims when they were breaking
their fast in their homes," he said.

Gilani vowed that the "perpetrators and their
accomplices will not go unpunished".


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