Pakistan bombings kill eight, wound four

An attack at a police complex in the capital and a roadside bomb kill eight on the same day legislators held a briefing on militant threats.

Emergency response services inspect the site of an explosion in Islamabad on Oct 9 2008.
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ISLAMABAD // Bombings killed eight people and wounded at least four in Pakistan today, including an attack at a police complex in the capital the same day lawmakers huddled for a private briefing on the militant threat facing the country. The deaths occurred in the nation's volatile northwest, where al Qa'eda and Taliban militants have established bases near the Afghan border. Three children, two police and three prisoners died when a roadside bomb exploded under a prison vehicle and caught a school bus in its wake in the Dir region, the government official Habib Rehman said. Meanwhile in Islamabad, an apparent suicide car bombing severely damaged an anti-terror squad building and wounded at least four police in the heavily guarded Police Lines neighbourhood. The explosion occurred just moments after a man delivered sweets to the facility, and police were examining whether the events were linked. In recent weeks militants have stepped up attacks on security, government and Western targets in Pakistan, reaching well beyond the northwest border areas. A September 20 suicide truck bombing in Islamabad killed 54 and severely damaged the Marriott Hotel. The latest incident in Islamabad occurred amid tight security for the lawmakers' briefing at Parliament. No one immediately took responsibility for the attack. Ambulances streamed into the smoke-filled police complex after the blast. The front section of the three-storey, red-brick building was destroyed and a staircase had collapsed. Shoes were strewn among the rubble. The Islamabad police chief Asghar Gardaizi said at least four people were hurt; others put the wounded toll as high as nine. The police commando Gulshan Iqbal said he was sitting at a nearby barrack when a "Suzuki car hit the anti-terror squad barrack and exploded with a big bang". He said the main building was largely empty because many officers were guarding Parliament and other areas of Islamabad. "About 10 people were inside at the time, and we saw six or seven injured," he said. Mr Gardaizi said a man in a green car had driven up to the building, entered and handed the boxes of sweets to a person inside. He later left the building, and within moments, the explosion occurred, Mr Gardaizi said. It was unclear what happened to the delivery man. He added that authorities would probe why a civilian vehicle was allowed in the area.

Pakistan's military says suicide attacks have killed nearly 1,200 people since July 2007, most of them civilians. The statistics also said 1,368 security force personnel had been killed since late 2001, when Pakistan's former military ruler, then-president Pervez Musharraf, allied the country with Washington in its war on terror. The young civilian government called the joint Parliament session in an effort to build a national consensus on the Muslim nation's role in the US-led war on terror. Many in Pakistan believe the alliance with the US has increased violence in their nuclear-armed country. *AP