Bomb attacks kill 24 in north-west Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Sun Jun 5, 2011 3:30pm EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - At least 24 people were killed in two separate bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, police said.

The attacks came after reported death of al Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri in a U.S. drone missile strike in the ethnic Pashtun tribal region of South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

Militants vowed to take revenge of the killing.

A bomb exploded at a bakery in the cantonment area of Nowshera city, killing 18 people, police said.

"We have confirmed 18 dead," Turk Ali Shah, a police spokesman in Nowshera, told Reuters. He said 35 people were also wounded in the blast.

Zakaullah Khan, the city's top government official, said the death toll could rise as many wounded were in critical condition.

"It was a huge blast. It shattered the bakery and a restaurant nearby," he said.

Witnesses said a fire erupted in the bakery shop soon after the blast. "I saw several charred bodies laying on the ground and people were crying and shouting," Arif Nabi, a witness, said.

Hours earlier, another bomb blast at a bus stop on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killed six people and wounded, police said.

Pakistan's Taliban militants, who have close ties to al Qaeda, have carried out a series of attacks to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in a Pakistani town on May 2.

They have attacked paramilitary cadets, a U.S. consulate convoy, a naval base and other targets.

The United States reiterated its call on Pakistan to become a more reliable partner in its war on militancy after it was discovered that bin Laden had apparently been living in Pakistan for years.

The Taliban have proven resilient in the face of several army offensives against their strongholds, seemingly carrying out suicide bombings at will.

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider and Fayyaz Aziz; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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