Attock: A suicide bomber struck a checkpoint near a major air force complex in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing seven people as the Army wages an anti-Taliban offensive along the Afghan border.
The blast was the latest in a wave of militant strikes in Pakistan, attacks that have targeted mostly security institutions and killed more than 170 people in the past three weeks.
The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra in Attock area is the country's major air force maintenance and research hub.
Some foreign military experts have mentioned it as a possible place to keep planes that can carry nuclear warheads, but the Army, which does not reveal where its nuclear-related facilities are, strongly denies that the facility is tied to the program in any way.
A lone suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself at a checkpoint on a road leading to the complex, around 30 miles (50 km) from the capital, Islamabad. Police officer Akbar Abbas blamed the Taliban for the attack.
The seven dead included two security troops, while 13 people were wounded.
The complex at Kamra or its workers have been targeted at least once before. In December 2007, a suicide car bomber struck near a bus carrying children of Pakistan Air Force employees, wounding five of them.
Pakistan is under intense pressure to eliminate Islamist militant groups sheltering in its northwest that also attack US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The military has battled them in various districts, losing hundreds of soldiers, but questions remain about its overall strategic commitment to the fight.
It began its current offensive in South Wazristan seven days ago.
The Army has previously moved into South Waziristan three times since 2004. Each time it has suffered high casualties and signed peace deals that left insurgents with effective control of the region. Western officials say al Qaeda now uses it and neighbouring North Waziristan as an operations and training base.
First Published: Friday, October 23, 2009, 12:50