US consulate vehicle attacked in Peshawar
* One passer-by killed, 10, including two US consulate officials, injured as 50-kg of explosives planted in a car detonate
* Taliban claim responsibility, vow more attacks
* Say diplomatic staff of all NATO countries are their targets
PESHAWAR: A car bomb targeting a US consulate convoy near University Town in Peshawar killed a passerby and injured 10 others, including two consulate officials, on Friday morning, police said.
It was the first attack on Westerners since the killing of Osama bin Laden. Last week, a twin suicide bombing killed over 80 paramilitary recruits in Shabqadar area.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the responsibility for Friday’s attack. The convoy, which was taking American employees to the consulate, was attacked on Abdara Road near the posh locality of University Town, where many foreign diplomats reside.
Peshawar police chief Liaquat Khan said that a 50-kg bomb was planted in a car and was detonated remotely when a US consulate vehicle passed by. A passing motorcyclist was killed and 10 others wounded, among them two consulate officials, he added.
A US embassy spokesman said two US government employees were lightly wounded in the rush-hour attack.
Witnesses said that one of the two armoured vehicles skidded off the road after the blast, which happened at around 8:25am, and smashed into an electricity pylon on a pedestrian footpath.
The bomb gouged a foot-deep crater out of the roadside, cracked the front wall of a nearby house and shattered the windows in two others.
Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar, who visited the site of the blast, said that it was an attack on the US consulate’s vehicle. “It will bring a bad name to us,” Iftikhar said, and vowed, “Terrorists will be defeated.”
“The blast was to avenge the May 2 killing of bin Laden by US Navy SEALs. We will continue such attacks,” said spokesman for the Taliban. “Our first enemy is Pakistan, then the United States and after that, other NATO countries,” Ahsanullah Ahsan told AFP in a phone call from an undisclosed location. He further said that the diplomatic staff of all NATO countries was their target.
The US Embassy in Islamabad said it was committed to working with Pakistan in the joint effort to combat terrorism. “We appreciate the support of Pakistani authorities that responded immediately and are investigating the incident,” said a statement issued by the embassy after the attack. “Our thoughts are with all those injured by this heinous attack,” the statement said. It added that no US official was seriously injured.
“There was an attack on a two-car convoy from the consulate in Peshawar. One car was hit. We are still investigating what actually happened,” said US embassy spokesman Rodriguez. But he declined to say what job the injured Americans held.
Friday’s attack came exactly a week after the Taliban claimed a devastating bomb attack that killed more than 80 people outside a paramilitary training facility in the country’s northwest as the first revenge for the al Qaeda supremo’s death. The attack was the seventh to be reported in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas near the Afghan border since US commandos killed bin Laden. staff report/agencies