Seven dead as Taliban strikes US consulate in Pakistan
TALIBAN fighters using rocket-propelled grenades, car bombs and suicide vests attempted to storm the United States consulate in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province yesterday.
Five security guards were among seven people killed during the raid in Peshawar and there were several explosions in the area that caused buildings to collapse.
Six militants in two cars laden with explosives managed to pierce the city's most heavily-guarded complex, which houses the provincial intelligence headquarters, the American consulate and the homes of several local ministers.
The audacity of the attack caused panic in the city and alarm among security officials.
Traffic is banned from some approaches but the terrorists drove in from the west and opened fire on police and paramilitary troops outside the consulate. They also fired rocket-propelled grenades at an armoured personnel carrier that blew up.
One eyewitness, Hamidullah Jan, said the attackers successfully penetrated the consulate compound. He heard an exchange of gunfire followed by two loud explosions.
Hasan Ali (25) who was being treated for abdominal injuries from an explosion, said he saw the first blast and was running to safety when a second and third explosion "shook the entire area".
Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a senior minister in North West Frontier Province whose home is 200 yards from the scene of the raid, said he saw six bodies, four of which appeared to be the remains of terrorists that had suicide vests close by them.
A Taliban spokesman later claimed responsibility for the attack, which he said targeted the United States consulate in revenge for American drone attacks that had killed a number of senior militant leaders.
Drone attacks have intensified since Barack Obama took office last year.
"We accept the attacks on the American consulate. This is revenge for drone attacks. We will carry out more such attacks. We will target any place where there are Americans," said Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman.
The assault came hours after at least 43 people were killed in a separate attack by militants on a political rally.
Supporters of the Awami National Party, which is power in the North West Frontier Province, died at the celebration in Lower Dir.
Security officials said they had been targeted because of their strong support for the army's anti-Taliban offensives in South Waziristan, Orakzai and North Wazaristan, where the al-Qa'ida leadership is believed to be hiding. (© Daily Telegraph, London)