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Deadly bomb shakes Pakistani city

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The bomb affected the police bureau, a mosque and other buildings

Twelve people have died and 15 have been injured in a bombing in Peshawar in north-western Pakistan, police say.

A suicide bomber attacked a police investigation bureau in the Swati Pathak area, which is close to a Pakistani army garrison.

Police officials initially said there were two bombers, including one woman, but later retracted the suggestion.

Security has been tightened nationwide after about 40 people were killed in Lahore and the north-west on Thursday.

Those attacks were the latest in a recent wave of brazen militant assaults across the country.

First I saw a blue flame then a loud explosion. When I got there I saw six bodies lying on the ground
Saadat Changhzi
Eyewitness

Like Thursday's bombings, the latest strike appeared to be aimed directly at Pakistan's police services.

Three officers were among those killed in what appeared to be a twin bomb attack. The upper floor of a nearby mosque was badly damaged and a crater left in the road outside.

"First I saw a blue flame then a loud explosion. When I got there I saw six bodies lying on the ground. I helped gather up body parts," witness Saadat Changhzi told the AFP news agency.

Police now believe a woman seen near the scene on a motorcycle was an innocent victim and had been a passenger on a motorcycle travelling behind the car bomb, reports the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad.

The latest wave of attacks come as Pakistan's government has been claiming that Taliban militancy is on the back foot, although the army has been more cautious.

But a lull that followed the killing of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban Baitullah Mehsud August 2009 has now decisively ended: in the past 12 days attacks across Pakistan have claimed at least 160 lives.

Strategic city

Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, has seen regular bomb and gun attacks in recent years.

The city was also targeted on Thursday, when a bombing killed a child, and one week ago, when a deadly bomb ripped through a busy city market in the city.

AT THE SCENE
Rahmanullah
Rahmanullah
BBC Pashto, Peshawar

The area where the blast occurred is one of Peshawar's most secure areas, near the army garrison. Low-ranking army officers live here.

The police and army were all over the place and have cordoned the area off. The burnt wreckage of the car the bomber used was there. A mosque close to the police building that was targeted was also badly damaged and a nearby shop had been reduced to rubble.


Most of the injured had been shifted to hospital but one witness told me he saw a massive plume of smoke and then, when he went to the site, he saw bodies strewn across the ground without arms or legs.

Local shopkeepers said that people were afraid to come to the bazaar because of all the recent blasts.

That attack killed at least 49 people in the busy Khyber Bazaar.

The city occupies a strategic position on the road to the Afghan border and is the gateway to Pakistan's tribal regions, long regarded as a haven for Islamist militants.

The latest wave of attacks comes as Pakistan's military prepares for what the government has said is an imminent assault on the Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is under US pressure to flush out militants as President Barack Obama considers sending more troops to neighbouring Afghanistan.

Stringent security measures were put in place following Thursday's attacks - which also mainly targeted police - but could not prevent the latest Peshawar bomb.

The success of Friday's attacks did not appear to weaken official determination to make a stand.

"We have to make sure that we take preventive measures. If we can specifically target the terrorists and their strongholds, such incidents will not happen again," said Mian Iftikhar, information minister for North West Frontier Province.

Around the eastern city of Lahore checkpoints have been installed and a one-way system is in operation on key roads.

The attacks in Lahore were the first time this year attackers struck at multiple targets in one city, says the BBC's Syed Shoiab Hasan, in Islamabad.

It was also the first time simultaneous attacks had ever hit Lahore.

Authorities in the capital, Islamabad, have also temporarily banned passengers from riding on the back of motorcycles and bicycles for security reasons.

Meanwhile, many of the police killed in Thursday's attacks have been buried.

The funerals for 11 policemen killed in one of the attacks, on Lahore's Manawan police training school, were held on Thursday night. Senior state officials and politicians attended the funeral prayers.

RECENT MILITANT ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN
Map showing recent attacks in northern Pakistan



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