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September 27, 2009

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Suicide bombs kill 16, wound about 150 in Pakistan attacks

TWO suicide car bombs killed 16 people and wounded about 150 others in separate attacks in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, just days after the Taliban warned suicide strikes were coming if the military pressed forward with an offensive.

A third bomb injured four in the restive region.

Pakistan's mountainous northwest region along the Afghan border - where the government holds little control - is a favored area for insurgents to plan attacks on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as well as on Pakistani security forces and government workers.

A suicide bomb was detonated outside a bank affiliated with the army in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, police said. Ten people were killed and 79 wounded, said Sahibzada Mohammed Anis, a senior government official.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw vehicles overturned by the blast, buildings gutted and glass scattered everywhere. Most of the casualties were bank customers or people outside.

"We saw body parts in the car and our investigation confirms it was a suicide attack," said Malik Shafqat, a police official in Peshawar. He said the attacker also threw a hand grenade before detonating the bomb but it didn't explode.

A suicide blast also hit a police station in the province's Bannu district earlier yesterday, killing at least six people and wounding nearly 70 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

A third bomb exploded in the northern town of Gilgit, wounding four people, Pakistan's SAMA news channel quoted local police chief Ali Sher as saying. He described it as a "low-intensity bomb" but provided no further details.

The latest strikes came two days after the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said it was ready to stage more suicide attacks in the region after it was ousted from the Swat Valley in July by an army offensive.

Qari Hussain Mehsud - known for training Taliban suicide bombers - had warned of more attacks in an interview on Thursday, just hours before US missiles hit the area, killing 12 people.


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