Suicide bomber kills nine in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber set off explosives in a vehicle at a security checkpoint in the northwest Pakistani town of Hangu today, killing at least nine people, officials said.

Pakistan has seen a wave of suicide attacks in the past three years, many in northwestern regions along the Afghan border where the Pakistan military is battling Taliban insurgents.

"Four policemen are among the dead ... it also killed five people in cars driving past," police official Gul Jamal told Reuters.

Seven women and four children were among 30 wounded.

The bomber used about 600 kg of explosives. The blast destroyed three vehicles and severely damaged seven houses, a bomb disposal official said.

The army has launched a series of offensives over the past few years in Pakistan's northwest, which it says have weakened the Taliban.

But the militants still strike back with bombs.

The military action is seen as crucial to efforts to bring stability to neighbouring Afghanistan, where US forces are leading the fight against the Afghan Taliban, who take refuge with Islamist comrades on the Pakistani side of the border.