Pakistan suicide bombing kills five (Lead)

May 5th, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 5 (DPA) A suicide bomber attacked a security checkpost in Pakistan’s north-west Tuesday, killing at least five people and wounding several more, police said.
The attacker blew up his explosives-laden car at a cordon near the checkpoint jointly manned by police and paramilitary troops on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of the militancy-hit North-West Frontier Province.

“Five people were killed and around 20 others, mostly passers-by, were injured in the bombing,” police officer Fazle Maula told DPA on the phone.

Half a dozen children travelling in a schoolbus were among the injured, according to the officer.

A pickup truck carrying paramilitary personnel had just cleared the cordon when the bomber detonated the explosives 50 metres from the vehicle. Nine troops were wounded.

The blast also damaged several cars and buildings lining the road leading to the lawless Khyber tribal district where Taliban militants have repeatedly attacked trucks hauling food and military supplies for the US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, but authorities suspected it to be the fallout of military operations in Malakand division of the same province.

Pakistani security forces are battling hardcore Taliban militants in picturesque Swat and two of its neighbouring districts, which were infiltrated by fighters last month in violation of a peace pact.

Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Mohammad brokered the accord between the militants and the provincial government in February after which authorities announced enforcement of Islamic sharia law in Malakand in return for an end to two years of insurgency.

Giving in to Taliban demands, authorities set up Islamic courts and an appellate court that was rejected by Mohammad’s organisation for being established “unilaterally”.

In defiance of the agreement, the insurgents resumed violence in Swat at the weekend by attacking government forces and holding armed patrols in main towns of the once serene valley.

The fresh clashes threatened the shaky peace deal, which is taking a lot of flak from Western governments and pressure groups at home.

The military Monday also charged the Swat militants with “gross violation” of the accord, adding that “security forces are still exercising restraint to honour the peace agreement”.

However, in Swat’s adjoining districts of Buner and Dir, troops launched air and ground operations in late April to flush out the militants, who were moving dangerously close to the country’s capital. Buner is just 100 km north-west of Islamabad.

According to military officials, the assaults in Buner and Dir have killed more than 250 militants. Around 15 troops also died in the clashes.

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