UN offices in Pakistan hit by suicide bomber

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A suspected suicide bomb blast hit the offices of the United Nations' World Food Program in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, on Monday, killing three people, including at least one foreigner. Several people were also wounded.

Security officials blocked off the building in a high security zone in Islamabad, as teams with sniffer dogs entered the complex to check for more explosives. Pakistani authorities said that they strengthened security in the capital following the attack.

Speaking to the Voice of America news agency by telephone shortly after the blast, World Food Program spokesman for Pakistan Amjed Jamal said, "what I can confirm is that there was a blast, there was something planted already in the office, which [blew] up, and that my colleagues are injured." Police say the dead include two Pakistani women and an Iraqi national.

Jamal said that despite the violence, his organization would continue to help those in need in Pakistan. "I can confidently say such acts cannot hamper humanitarian work in Pakistan."

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants have targeted UN offices in the past. In June, a senior Pakistani officer with the UN's refugee agency was killed in an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt near Peshawar.

Since his death, UNHCR has suspended the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees living in camps in Pakistan.

The WFP offices are located on a street that already has high security due to other nearby United Nations offices. Also, across the main road is Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari's civilian residence, which is a hub for political activity in the capital.