Conflict & Justice

Suicide car bomber kills 25 in northwest Pakistan

At least 25 people have been killed after a suicide car bomber rammed into a police checkpoint in Hangu, a town in Pakistan’s volatile northwest.

The bomb, which was reportedly so powerful that it left a deep crater, went off outside a district court office and also flattened buildings that housed a tea house and a restaurant.

Police officers are among the casualties. The death toll could rise further, as many of the 45 people wounded in the blast are in serious condition, a police spokesman told Reuters. Rescue efforts were underway to find people buried in the rubble.

Agence France-Presse reports that the Pakistan's main Taliban faction has claimed responsibility for the attack, as part of their campaign to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces.

"We accept responsibility for this attack. This was a small attack to avenge Osama's martyrdom," a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Ehsanullah Ehsan, told AFP by telephone.

"Soon you will see bigger attacks. Revenge for Osama can't be satisfied just with small attacks," he said.

Hangu has a history of violence between its minority Shiite and majority Sunni communities, Reuters says. It is also close to tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The attack in Hangu comes only a day after a similar attack destroyed a police station in Peshawar, killing five policemen and a soldier.

On Sunday, 10 Pakistani military personnel were killed in an attack on a naval air base in Karachi. Two U.S.-made aircraft were destroyed in the siege.

The U.S. raid that killed bin Laden has raised questions about Pakistan's possible role in sheltering militants. But many Pakistanis view the May 2 raid as a breach of their country’s sovereignty.