Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 10:47 UK

Blasts rock north-west Pakistan


The attacks wreaked devastation in Peshawar and Bannu

At least 16 people have been killed in two suicide car bomb attacks in north-western Pakistan.

Ten people are reported to have been killed and scores injured in a bombing in the city of Peshawar.

Earlier, a suicide car bomb in the town of Bannu killed at least six people, police said.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool, in Islamabad, says the attacks show the Taliban appear to be reasserting themselves after a series of setbacks.

In Peshawar, police said the bomb had exploded in the car park of a bank in a commercial area. Witnesses said the blast was heard across the city.


"It was a very big explosion. I could see smoke rising from the scene," Asad Ali, a resident, told Reuters by telephone.

More than 70 people are reported to have been injured, some critically, and officials say the death toll could rise.

Police targeted

In the attack in Bannu, the bomber detonated his vehicle outside a police station.

Reports say the police building and several neighbouring houses collapsed in the blast. A number of people are thought to be trapped in the rubble.

Bannu is close to the tribal region of North Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold.

The attacks come after a period of relative quiet from the Taliban, our correspondent says, after insurgents suffered a series of setbacks.

In August, the then leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed after a US missile strike.

After his death, Hakimullah Mehsud took over as the group's leader.

Earlier this month, the Taliban suffered another blow when Pakistani police arrested Muslim Khan, one of the highest ranking Taliban officials in the country, along with four other senior militants.

We have broken the silence... and from now there will be an increase in the number of suicide bombings
Taliban spokesman Qari Hussain

The Taliban have also vowed to strike back after being ousted from the Swat valley in a huge offensive by the Pakistani army.

The head of the Taliban in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, was reported to have been seriously injured in an air strike in July.

A Taliban commander, who trains suicide bombers, claimed responsibility for the Bannu attack in a call to the Associated Press on Saturday.

"We have broken the silence as the government did not understand the pause in attacks, and from now there will be an increase in the number of suicide bombings," said Qari Hussain.

Pakistan's mountainous north-west region, near the Afghan border, is a favoured area for insurgents planning attacks on US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.

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