The Herald Bulletin

June 30, 2013

Attack on security convoy kills 16 in Pakistan


The Associated Press

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A car bomb exploded as a convoy of paramilitary troops passed through the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar on Sunday, killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, police said.

Most of the dead and wounded were civilians. The blast struck one vehicle in the convoy of paramilitary Frontier Corps troops, but the other passed by safely, said police official Shafiullah Khan. It is unclear whether it was a suicide bombing or the explosives in the vehicle were set off by remote control.

The blast damaged many vehicles and shops in the area, according to local TV footage. Frontier Corps vehicles rushed to the scene to help after the attack, as a police officer collected evidence from the crater caused by the bomb.

No one has claimed responsibility. But suspicion will likely fall on the Pakistani Taliban. The group has been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for years that has killed thousands of security personnel and civilians.

Peshawar is located on the edge of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region, the main Taliban sanctuary in the country, and has been hit by scores of bombings over the years.

The attack in Peshawar came as British Prime Minister David Cameron was visiting the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Cameron told his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, that Britain would do all it can to help fight extremism, a battle that requires both a tough security response and measures to fight poverty and promote education.

"The enemies of Pakistan are enemies of Britain, and we will stand together and conduct this fight against extremism and terrorism together," Cameron said in a joint press conference with Sharif.

Cameron also welcomed Pakistan's stated commitment to help promote a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan is seen as key to any deal because of its historical links with the insurgents. Pakistan pushed the Taliban to carry through with its recent step to set up a political office in the Gulf country of Qatar, although acrimony between the insurgents and the Afghan government has hampered the negotiation process.

"I will assure Prime Minister Cameron of our firm resolve to promote the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan to which the 3 million Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan can return with honor and dignity," Sharif said at the press conference.

Sharif has also pushed for peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, although a series of attacks by the group since he took office in early June have led many to question that approach.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting to death 10 foreign mountain climbers and a Pakistani guide in northern Pakistan a week ago, an attack the group said was retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed the Taliban's deputy leader.