Suicide bomber hits checkpoint in Pakistan

Saturday, January 30, 2010

At least sixteen people, including two paramilitary soldiers, have been killed today, and 25 people injured, after a suicide bomber attack on a checkpoint in Khar, in the Bajaur region of north-west Pakistan, according to officials. Initial reports suggested that the bomber was in a vehicle, and a local official states that the bomber was wearing a suicide vest.

It is thought that the bomber detonated the vest when security forces stopped him for a search at the checkpoint, situated in a marketplace. After the attack, a curfew was imposed and all bazaars in the city shut down. The bomber was said to be headed towards military barracks before he was stopped.

Pakistani Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the bombing, and expressed deep grief and sorrow, according to a statement issued by his office. He called for an immediate inquiry. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but government officials blame the Taliban.

Pakistani forces have been attacking militants in the Bajaur region, which, close to the Afghan border, is suspected to be the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden, as well as other al-Qaeda leaders. At least 24 suspected militants have been killed in the fighting, according to government officials.

In February 2009, the army announced that Bajaur had been cleansed of Taliban militants, following a ground offensive launched in October 2008. However, the situation is getting worse, with numerous attacks in the last six months.