Bomb hits U.S. vehicle in Pakistan
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The suicide car bomb attack on a U.S. government vehicle in northwestern Pakistan on Monday that killed two Pakistanis was a "heinous act" against Americans working in a city perched on the edge of the country's militant-infested tribal areas, U.S. officials said.
The vehicle belonging to the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was attacked as it traveled through University Town, an upscale Peshawar neighborhood where several international organizations maintain offices. No U.S. citizens or staff members of the consulate were killed, but two American staff members and two Pakistani nationals who work at the facility were injured, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The identities of the two Pakistanis who were killed were not immediately released. An additional 21 people were injured in the attack, Pakistani authorities said.
Roughly 220 pounds of explosives, including artillery shells, were packed into the suicide bomber's car, said Shafqat Malik, inspector general of Peshawar's bomb disposal squad.
The massive impact of the blast engulfed the consulate vehicle in flames and left a gaping crater in the asphalt. Footage from Pakistani television showed the charred frame of the SUV against a brick wall by the side of the road.
No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attack. Ms. Nuland called the attack a "heinous act" and said the U.S. was ready "to work with Pakistani authorities on a full investigation so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice."
Many of the suicide bombings and other terrorist acts in Peshawar have been carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, the domestic insurgent group that for years has been attacking security installations along with markets, mosques and other civilian targets.
In recent years, the Pakistani Taliban has expanded its agenda to include Western targets, and was involved in providing training and logistical support for a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent who botched an attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square in 2010.
Despite the continued presence of al-Qaida-linked militants in northwestern Pakistan and the intense anti-American sentiments that pervade Pakistani society, terrorist attacks against American government entities in Pakistan remain relatively rare, largely because of extensive security measures the U.S. employs at its offices and compounds.
The last attack on U.S. consulate vehicles in Peshawar occurred in May 2011, when a car bomb detonated by remote control targeted a convoy of two American armored vehicles in the University Town area, killing a Pakistani bystander.
No American personnel were killed in the blast. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.
First Published September 4, 2012 12:00 am