13 May 2011

Pakistan: Bombers kill scores in bin Laden revenge attack

At least 80 people killed in double suicide bombing at a military academy in Pakistan. A source in the area tells Channel 4 News that hundreds of victims continue to arrive in hospitals.

Two suicide bombers targeted a northwest Pakistan paramilitary force academy on Friday, the first major attack by suspected militants since Osama bin Laden was killed in the country on 2 May.

“The death toll is now [80]. It was a suicide bombing,” Nisar Marwat, the police chief in the town of Charsadda where the attack took place, said. Officials later confirmed that there were, in fact, two separate explosions.

A suicide bomber detonated at least one of the blasts in the Shabqadar area of Charsadda district, according to police, who added that the explosive vests were packed with ball bearings and nails. A suicide bomber in his late teens or early 20s set off one of the blasts.

Dozens of people also were wounded when the explosions went off at a main gate of the Frontier Constabulary training site, according to police official Nisar Khan.

Pakistan: Bombers kill scores in bin Laden revenge attack - Reuters

The Taliban have claimed responsibility, and al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan have vowed to avenge bin Laden’s killing by US special forces.

“We … made it mandatory upon us to avenge his murder,” Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said.

He warned that the group was also planning attacks on Americans living inside Pakistan.

Ahsan added that the attack was aimed as punishment against Pakistani authorities for failing to stop the unilateral US raid that killed bin Laden, something that has sparked popular nationalist and Islamist anger.

On Friday, Pakistani authorities gave credence to the Taliban claims were behind the bombings and that the motive was revenge.

September 11 mastermind bin Laden and at least four others were killed by US Navy SEALs who raided bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a garrison city.

Many of the attacks in Pakistan have targeted security forces, including young cadets or recruits.

A source in the area reports on the blast that have rocked the idyllic Pakistani town: 

Inspector General Akbar Hoti told reporters that the 900 paramilitary trainees had just finished their training and were getting ready to leave for their respective homes for a deserved 10 days break when the suicide bombers set off their devices at the entrance of the barracks at Shabqadar in Charsadda district.
The recruits had boarded around 12 passenger coaches when the suicide bombers, riding motorcycles, set off their bombs.
About 20 kilometers north in Peshawar, the area's largest public sector hospital has already taken in at least 120 victims of the blasts.
Head doctor, Hameed Afridi, told me that more than 40 of those injured are in critical condition.

Foreign Secretary William Hague denounced the attacks and offered Britain’s sympathies to the familes of those killed.

“I condemn this morning’s attacks in Charsadda, North-West Pakistan that have claimed over 80 lives and injured many more,” Mr Hague said.

“These attacks were cowardly and indiscriminate, killing many innocent bystanders and targeting those who serve to protect Pakistan. They prove once again that such extremist groups have no regard for the value of human life.

“I offer my sincere condolences, in particular to the families of those whose lives were lost and to those who were injured.

“The UK is committed to standing with Pakistan in the fight against violent extremism and we will continue to work with Pakistan to tackle this shared threat.”

Read more: US Attorney General: Osama bin Laden killing: 'ultimate act of national defence'