Peshawar/Islamabad: Pakistani Taliban has
claimed responsibility for a suspected suicide attack in which
three US soldiers and six others were killed in the restive
northwest of the country on Wednesday, the first such incident that
has left American troops dead in Pakistan.
Three American military personnel, who were in
Pakistan to train paramilitary Frontier Corps troops, were
killed when the suspected Taliban suicide car bomber targeted
an army convoy, the US embassy said in a statement.
Four girl students, a Frontier Corps personnel and a
passer-by were also killed, local officials said.
Over 100 people, including two US soldiers, several
Pakistani security personnel and journalists and scores of
students of a girls` school, were injured.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility
for the bombing, with spokesman Azam Tariq saying it was
carried out to "avenge the killing of innocent people in
attacks by (US private security contractor) Blackwater."
Tariq told reporters by phone from an undisclosed
location that Blackwater was responsible for several recent
bomb attacks in markets in Peshawar.
He warned the Taliban would carry out more attacks in
the near future. The attack occurred at 10.50 am when the
convoy was on its way to the inauguration ceremony of a girls
school that was renovated with US humanitarian aid.
The convoy was targeted near another state-run girls
school located a few kilometres from Tirmargarha, the main
city of Dir district in the North West Frontier Province.
District administration chief Ghulam Muhammad told
agency that the available evidence suggested the attack was
carried out by a suicide car bomber.
However, some officials said the blast was caused by
a roadside bomb that was triggered by remote control.
The US embassy statement condemned the "vicious
terrorist bombing." It said: "The carnage at the school in
Lower Dir clearly shows the terrorists` vision.
The US and Pakistan are partners in fighting
terrorism and our people are working together to build
The Pakistan government too condemned the attack.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesman
said such "inhuman acts of terror only serve to fortify
Pakistan`s resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism."
There was considerable confusion about the identities
and professions of the dead foreigners in the initial hours
after the attack.
Initial reports said the foreigners were journalists
or aid workers but this was ruled out by officials.
Over 100 students and three teachers of the girls?
school were injured, officials said. Four of them were in a
serious condition. The roof of the school caved in due to the
Classes were being held outside in the sunshine due
to the harsh winter weather and this had minimised casualties,
district administration chief Ghulam Muhammad said.
"If the students had been in their classrooms, the
number of deaths would have been higher," he added.
The convoy was on its way to the inauguration of a
school that was reconstructed after it was destroyed by the
Security forces cordoned off the area, set up road
blocks and launched a search operation to trace those
responsible for the attack.
The Dir area is located between the Swat valley and
Bajaur tribal region, where Pakistani troops have conducted
campaigns against the Taliban.
The Pakistan Army said militants had frequently used
IEDs to target security forces and girls? schools in the Dir