Pak police seize vehicle packed with 1,000 kg explosives

Islamabad: Pakistani police on Saturaday seized a vehicle packed with a tonne of explosives and arrested two suspected militants, who were planning an attack, from a troubled area in the country's northwest, where two suicide blasts targeting the minority Shia community killed 36 people this week.

The vehicle carrying 1,000 kg of explosives was seized at Bannu Gate area within the cantonment of Kohat city in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police said.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Masood Afridi said two suspected militants from the Orakzai tribal region had also been arrested.

"The militants intended to use the vehicle to carry an attack in Kohat or Hangu," Afridi told the media.

Both Kohat and Hangu districts have been declared "very sensitive" for the Islamic holy month of 'Muharram' and security forces had been placed on high alert, he said.

Security forces had launched a search operation and a bomb disposal squad was called in to defuse the explosives, officials said.

A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a hospital run by a Shia community trust in Hangu yesterday, killing 17 people and injuring 20 more. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Almi claimed responsibility for the blast in a telephone call to the police.

On Wednesday, the first day of Muharram, a suicide bomber targeted a bus with mostly Shia passengers at a terminal in Kohat, killing 19 people and injuring over 30.

Authorities have put in place strict security arrangements across Pakistan for Muharram, which has been marred by sectarian and militant violence in recent years.