Two die as suicide bomber targets US vehicle in Peshawar (Evening Lead)

September 3rd, 2012 - 6:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 3 (IANS) At least two people were killed Monday when a suicide bomber rammed his car packed with explosives into a US consulate vehicle near a UN office in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar. The US embassy said none of its nationals was killed in the attack.

The deafening blast took place at about 9 a.m. when one of two US consulate vehicles, escorted by three police vehicles, was hit by a suicide car bomber while the convoy was on way from the US consulate to the American club, said Farhan, a police driver who escorted the convoy.

“It was a big blast and a five-feet-deep crater was left on the ground after the explosion”, Xinhua quoted an eyewitness as saying.

The bombing took place close to the office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Authorities initially said that three people were killed, but later revised the toll to two. A minister, however, put the number of dead at four.

Mian Iftikhar, information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told the media: “The blast killed two Americans. This is a dangerous move from the terrorists - they want to terrorise the foreigners.”

The US embassy here promptly denied reports that two Americans had been killed, reported Online news agency.

An embassy spokesman said they had no reports of any Americans being killed in the blast, after provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said two Americans had died.

The US Embassy in Islamabad released the statement by Department of State spokesperson Ambassador Victoria Nuland which stated: “We can confirm that a vehicle belonging to the US Consulate in Peshawar was hit in an apparent terrorist attack.

“Two US personnel and two Pakistani staff of the Consulate were injured and are receiving medical treatment. No US Consulate personnel were killed, but we are seeking further information about other victims of this heinous act. We stand ready to work with Pakistani authorities on a full investigation so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.”

One of the victims was later identified as Barkatullah Khan, who hailed from Swat, while the identity of the other victim was not immediately known, reported Geo News.

Imtiaz Altaf, a senior police official, said that apart from the four policemen injured in the blast, at least 15 others, including two kids and a woman, were also injured in the attack.

A half-burnt US passport was recovered from the vehicle that was badly damaged in the blast.

Police estimated that up to 100 kg of explosives material was used in the terror attack that left a big crater in the road and destroyed a Jeep. The walls of four nearby houses were damaged.

The bombing took place barely four days after at least nine people, including two children, were killed and over 20 injured in a bomb blast in an auto workshop in Mattni Bazaar on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Sources told Dawn that threats had been received two days ago about an attack on the US consulate after which security had been heightened.

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