Taliban claim responsibility of attack on US soldiers
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 03, 2010, 22:38
  
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 schools."

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 blast.

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 Taliban.

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 area.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, February 03, 2010, 22:38


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