PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suicide car-bomber destroyed an office of Pakistan’s main intelligence agency in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding over 30, witnesses and officials said.
Militants have stepped up attacks on security forces including a commando-style raid and hostage-taking at the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi last month.
The frontier city of Peshawar has been targeted several times since the army began an offensive against the militants in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border on October 17.
“It was the biggest explosion I’ve ever heard,” said city resident Asad Ali.
A military spokesman said the bomber’s target was the office of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and witnesses said the building in a military neighborhood had completely collapsed.
It was not clear how many people were in the building when the bomber struck at about 6:40 a.m. (0140 GMT), before the city’s rush-hour.
“So far, death of eight people has been confirmed. Thirty-one people are wounded,” city administrator Sahibzada Anis told Reuters.
Security is tight across the country with numerous checks on roads and it was not clear how the bomber was able to approach the ISI office.
About a dozen policemen were wounded in another car-bomb attack near the northwestern town of Bannu early on Friday, police said. Bannu is a gateway to the North Waziristan tribal region, another major militant sanctuary on the Afghan border.
The militants who attacked the army headquarters in Rawalpindi last month were dressed in army uniforms and traveled in a vehicle with military markings, reflecting an increasing sophistication in their attacks.
They were able to approach a gate of the sprawling headquarters complex but did not get through, as they had apparently intended.
Instead, they took hostages at a security office just outside the headquarters.
The army went on the offensive last month in South Waziristan, a lawless ethnic Pashtun region, aiming to root out Pakistani Taliban militants behind a wave of violence in urban areas.
The militants have responded with intensified attacks in towns and cities, killing several hundred people.
Additional Reporting by Alamgir Bitani, and Zeeshan Haider in Islamabad; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani