Suicide bomber hits Islamabad market

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A suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy market in the Pakistani capital yesterday, killing at least one person in the first bombing in Islamabad in more than 18 months, police said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Pakistani Taliban have pledged to carry out attacks in retaliation for the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden last month in an army town not far from Islamabad.

The suicide bomber tried to enter a bank in the market but was stopped by a security guard, said Islamabad police chief Wajid Durrani. The bomber then detonated his explosives, killing the guard and wounding four others, Mr Durrani said. The blast ripped through the ground floor of the bank. Police tried to keep people from gathering at the scene, fearing there might be a second blast.

Mohammad Shafi, a 45-year-old employee of a nearby marriage hall, said he was on his way to work when he heard a loud explosion. The blast knocked him over, and he quickly jumped up and ran to some bushes for safety. "There was smoke everywhere," said Mr Shafi.

Ehsan Masih, a 36-year-old security guard at a nearby office, said the blast rattled the windows and doors of his building. "Broken glass hit me and several others," he said.

The last bombing in Islamabad was in October 2009, when two suicide bombers attacked an Islamic university in the capital, killing six people.