Friday 19 January 2018

Video: Taliban suicide bombers kill 70 in revenge attack

A hospital worker carries a man who was injured in a bomb attack at a paramilitary force academy in Charsadda. Photo: Reuters
A hospital worker carries a man who was injured in a bomb attack at a paramilitary force academy in Charsadda. Photo: Reuters

Laura Roberts

Two suicide bombers have killed at least 70 people and wounded around 100 more at a paramilitary training centre in northwestern Pakistan - in apparent revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and warned there were more to come.

The attack on Friday morning in Charsadda district is the bloodiest since US forces killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2.

Five of the dead were civilians while the rest were recruits at the Frontier Constabulary training site.

"This was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom. Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan in a telephone interview.

"Two of our fedayeen (suicide bombers) carried out these attacks."

Last week the group threatened to attack security forces to avenge bin Laden's killing in a US helicopter raid.

Senior police official Nisar Khan said nearly all of the dead were recruits at the Frontier Constabulary training site.

He said: "The suicide bomber came on a motorcycle and blew himself up among Frontier Constabulary personnel.

"When other FC people came to the rescue to help their colleagues, the second bomber came on another motorcycle and blew himself up."

He added: "Seventy people have been killed. Sixty-five of them are from the paramilitary police. Five dead bodies of civilians were taken to Shabqadar hospital."

The bombs detonated beside a group of Pakistani paramilitary police as they were about to travel home on leave from a training centre.

The explosions detonated as newly trained cadets were getting into buses and coaches. They were wearing civilian clothes, police said.

Twelve vehicles were destroyed in the blasts along with 20 shops.

Ahmad Ali, a wounded paramilitary policeman, said: "I was sitting in a van waiting for my colleagues. We were in plain clothes and we were happy we were going to see our families.

"I heard someone shouting 'Allah Akbar' and then I heard a huge blast. I was hit by something in my back shoulder. In the meantime I heard another blast and I jumped out of the van. I felt that I was injured and bleeding."

The attacks took place in the Shabqadar area, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Peshawar, the main city in the northwest region where militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda have repeatedly attacked government forces.

They were the deadliest attacks in Pakistan since November 5 when a suicide bomber killed 68 people at a mosque in the northwest area of Darra Adam Khel.

More than 4,300 people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan in the past four years since government forces raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

Pakistan's civilian government said on Thursday it would review counter-terrorism co-operation with the United States as it comes under growing domestic pressure to punish Washington for the bin Laden raid.

Pakistan's senior military officer, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has cancelled a scheduled visit to the United States, a military official said.

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