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October 6, 2009

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Five killed in UN office blast

A SUICIDE bomber disguised as a security officer struck the lobby of the United Nations food agency's Pakistan headquarters yesterday, killing five people a day after the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban vowed fresh assaults.

After the attack, the World Food Program said it was closing its offices in Pakistan temporarily.

"This is a heinous crime committed against those who have been working tirelessly to assist the poor and vulnerable on the frontlines of hunger and other human suffering in Pakistan," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Geneva. He said the UN would, however, continue providing humanitarian assistance to the Pakistani people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The blast shattered windows in the lobby of the compound in an upmarket residential area of Islamabad and left victims lying on the ground in pools of blood, witnesses said. The office is close to a home belonging to President Asif Ali Zardari.

"There was a huge bang, and something hit me. I fell on the floor bleeding," said Adam Motiwala, an information officer at the UN agency who suffered head, leg and rib injuries.

Medical officials said five people had been killed, including an Iraqi working for the agency. Two of the victims were Pakistani women. Several others were injured, two critically.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the attacker was wearing the uniform of a paramilitary police officer and asked a guard if he could go inside to use the bathroom.

The attacker, who was in his 20s, detonated his explosives in the lobby.

On Sunday, Hakimullah Mehsud, the new leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, told reporters it would strike back at Pakistan and the United States for the drone attacks in tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Unmanned drones have carried out more than 70 missile strikes in northwestern Pakistan over the past year in a covert program, killing several top militant commanders.


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