Blast outside store kills 4 in Pakistan

Associated Press / March 12, 2010

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A homemade bomb placed outside a store in northwestern Pakistan where locals watch movies exploded yesterday, killing four people, including a child, said officials.

The attack, which also wounded 21 people, occurred on the outskirts of Peshawar, a city near the Afghan border that experienced a wave of bombings at the end of last year but has been fairly quiet in recent months.

Earlier, officials had said the explosion was caused by three suicide bombers who were attempting to attack a security convoy. It was unclear what prompted the erroneous report.

Two men were killed instantly, while two others, including a child, died after arriving at a hospital, said Jamal Shah, a medical official.

The bomb appeared to contain some 11 pounds of explosives, said Shafqat Malik, a police explosives specialist.

Pakistan has been plagued by a Taliban-led insurgency that has killed thousands of people over the past few years, many of them in the volatile northwest. The government has fought back with a series of military offensives to deny militants sanctuary along the Afghan border.

The largest operation so far was launched in October in the South Waziristan tribal area, the major stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The ground invasion sparked a wave of attacks that killed more than 600 people, many of them in Peshawar.

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the leader of a hard-line Sunni group in Karachi yesterday along with three other people as they were riding in a vehicle, said Jamil Soomro, the government spokesman for surrounding Sindh Province.

Soomro said authorities suspected Shi’ites in the attack.