Bakery blast leaves 14 dead in Pakistan


Monday, June 06, 2011

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — At least 14 people were killed yesterday when a bomb exploded in a bakery in northwest Pakistan, police and government officials said, an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

More than 20 people were injured in the blast in the town of Nowshera, which lies around 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Peshawar, the gateway to Pakistan’s lawless tribal region on the border with Afghanistan.

A Pakistani boy who was injured in a bomb blast is treated at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan yesterday. (Photo: AP)

"It was a remote-controlled bomb planted in a dustbin at the entrance of the bakery on the main Mall Road in the garrison town of Nowshera," Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial information minister, told AFP.

"At least 14 people have died and 21 been injured."

The explosion sparked a huge fire which has now been brought under control, he said.

Elsewhere in northwest Pakistan, another remote-controlled bomb tore through a passenger vehicle parked at a bus terminal near Peshawar, killing six people and wounding 11 others.

The attacks came two days after a US drone strike which officials believe killed Pakistan’s al-Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the network’s most feared operational leaders.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack in Nowshera in a phone call to AFP.

"It was a remote-controlled bomb which was planted by our men," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said from an undisclosed location.

Nowshera police chief Abdullah Khan confirmed the casualties, saying the dead included three children and three of the injured were in a critical condition.

Kashmiri had a US bounty of $5 million on his head and Pakistani officials said he was the target of Friday’s drone strike in South Waziristan, in which nine members of his banned group died.

The rugged tribal region is known as Pakistan’s premier stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda linked militants.

The United States has long put pressure on Pakistan to mount a major air and ground offensive in North Waziristan, from where Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents launch attacks across the border in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has always maintained that any such operation would be of its own time and choosing, arguing that its 140,000 troops committed to the northwest are already too overstretched fighting militants posing a domestic threat.

More than 4,400 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks based in the tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007

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