A boy and six policeman killed in Pakistan bicycle bomb attack

The policemen were guarding polio vaccination workers

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The Independent Online

A boy and six policemen have been killed, and 11 people wounded, after a bicycle rigged with explosives hit a police patrol in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday.

The police patrol was travelling to guard a polio vaccination team in the north-western area of the country when the incident happened.

Set off remotely, the explosion in the Charsadda district struck close to a busy market town, according to police officer Shafiullah Khan. The boy who was killed along with the policemen in the patrol was a bystander, officer Khan added.

Another 20 people were killed in Pakistan in a blast on Tuesday, after a car bomb struck a bus transporting Shiite pilgrims in south-western Balochistan. Three health workers also died on Tuesday when a polio vaccination team was attacked in the southern city of Karachi.

It is as yet unclear who the perpetrators of the latest attacks were, but it is suspected the Pakistani Taliban are responsible. The group had set off explosions on Sunday and Monday, killing 33 people in total in Bannu and Rawalpindi.

On Tuesday, Pakistani fighter jets bombed and killed 25 suspected Taliban militants in hideouts overnight in North Waziristan in an attempt to prevent more terrorist attacks. Residents in the area also claimed that civilians were among the dead.

Polio vaccination teams have been victim to attacks in the past, as militants have killed more than 30 polio workers and the troops guarding them in recent years.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the polio virus is still endemic, but militants oppose vaccinations because they regard them as a cover for spying against Pakistan, and a conspiracy to allegedly sterilise Muslim children.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is being placed under increasing pressure to take tougher action against the Taliban following the attacks.

Mr Sharif announced on Sunday that he would be cancelling his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos to deal with the situation.

No meaningful talks have taken place between the Government and the Taliban since a ceasefire in 2007. The death of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a November drone strike has further enraged the Taliban, with its new leader, Mullah Fazlullah, vowing to step up his campaign against the army.


Additional reporting by PA