Women and children among 18 dead in Pakistani bombing

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The Independent Online

A car bomb ripped through a police compound in a northwestern Pakistani city, killing 18 people, including 14 women and children and four officers, the latest in a string of attacks proving that Islamist militants remain a potent force in the country.

The civilians killed were the wives and children of police officers, said Khalid Omarzai, the city's top government official. Another 94 people were wounded in yesterday's bombing, he said, adding that they had been taken to hospitals after rescuers cleared rubble of over two dozen collapsed houses and shops.



The complex in the garrison city of Kohat houses officers' homes, a training facility and a commercial area.



Officer Mohammad Arif said there was a huge explosion in the residential area of the compound soon after the evening breaking of the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Power to the area was cut, forcing emergency workers to search for victims in the dark, he said.



Kohat, the major town on the road between the provincial capital of Peshawar and several tribal areas, has been the scene of several militant attacks this year. In April, two burqa-clad suicide bombers attacked refugees lined up to register for food and other relief supplies in the district, killing 41 people and wounding dozens more.



"This city is a war zone. We would always expect such attacks," said Omarzai, the government official.



The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks across the nation aimed at destabilizing the country and weakening a civilian government already struggling with a massive flooding that has displaced millions and caused widespread destruction.



The deadliest have targeted minority Shiite Muslims. A suicide bombing killed at least 65 Shiite Muslims at a procession in the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday. Two days earlier, a triple suicide attack killed 35 people at a Shiite ceremony in the eastern city of Lahore.



On Monday, a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a car in an alley behind a police station in a strategically important town in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 17 police and civilians in an explosion that shattered the station and neighboring homes.



About 40 people were wounded in the attack in Lakki Marwat, which sits on the main road between Punjab province, Pakistan's largest and most prosperous, and the North and South Waziristan tribal regions.



Meanwhile, two roadside bombs Tuesday killed one police officer and wounded three others in the northwestern district of Hangu, said government official Omarzai.

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