Seven killed in bombing of Pakistani police bus (Lead)

August 28th, 2008 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 28 (DPA) Seven people, most of them law enforcement officers, were killed Thursday when a roadside bomb hit their bus in Pakistan’s restive North-West Frontier Province, officials said.An earlier report quoting media said some 13 people were killed in the attack.

“Suspected Islamist militants detonated a remote-controlled explosive device when the prison van was crossing a bridge over the Kurram River, killing six policemen and a passerby,” a senior police officer, Waqas Hasan, said.

Some television news channels put the toll in the bombing - which took place on the outskirts of Bannu town, 200 kms south of the provincial capital, Peshawar - as high as 13 but the figure was rejected by Hasan, who also said about a dozen people were wounded in the blast.

The official death count was confirmed by authorities at the Bannu district hospital, where the casualties were taken.

“We have the bodies of seven blast victims in the mortuary,” medical officer Wali Zaman said by phone.

According to Hasan, four of the injured were referred to a state-run hospital in Peshawar because they were in critical condition.

Hasan said the blast was so intense that it threw the police vehicle off the bridge and onto the dry riverbed. The explosion also blew a gaping hole in the concrete bridge, he said.

The bus, which was carrying only law enforcement officers, was going to a local prison to transport defendants on trial from the detention facility to courts.

A security officer in the area suspected the attack was carried out in revenge for offensives launched by the government against militants in Pakistan’s north-western regions.

“Militants from the tribal areas are now increasingly taking vengeance on security forces,” the officer said.

The military said Wednesday that its forces killed around 50 insurgents during clashes in different tribal districts near the Afghan frontier.

Bannu borders the North Waziristan tribal district, a sanctuary of pro-Taliban militants, including foreign fighters, and it has seen several recent deadly attacks on police and military targets.

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