One dead, 15 injured in Pakistan cart bomb

A bomb planted in a horse-drawn cart exploded near a school in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding 15, mostly children, officials said.

The bomb detonated after pupils riding in the cart to school had dismounted, but the driver and his horse were killed in the blast in Peshawar city's Saddar neighbourhood, said a bomb disposal squad official.

"The bomb was planted in a horse cart, which went off near a school building," senior police official Mohammad Ijaz told AFP.

Ijaz said most of the 15 wounded were students.

Nearly 4,000 people have been killed in suicide attacks and bomb explosions, blamed on homegrown Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks in the past three-and-a-half years.

Children wounded in Wednesday's blast lay in hospital in their school uniforms.

"We received 15 injured, 11 of them students, and one dead body," Jamil Shah, spokesman for the city's Lady Reading Hospital, said.

The injured included schoolchildren aged between five and eight years, Shah said.

The blast shattered windows at the school. It was not immediately clear if the target was the school -- a privately run institution teaching both girls and boys -- or whether the bomb exploded prematurely.

Bomb disposal squad official Hukam Khan said the bomb planted in the horse-drawn cart was a timed device of up to five kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives.

Peshawar is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the door to remote and lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where key leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda are believed to be holed up.

On Monday, 18 people were killed by a bomb in a minibus in Hangu district, 100 miles southwest of Peshawar.

Most attacks in the northwest region of Pakistan target security forces, but increasingly, bombs target civilians.

The Islamist militants oppose school education for girls.

The army has lost more than 2,400 soldiers in the fight against insurgents in the tribal areas since late 2001, but Washington, which finances much of Pakistan's military effort wants the military to step up the fight.

Washington says wiping out the militant threat in the semi-autonomous tribal belt is vital to winning the nine-year war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and defeating Al-Qaeda.

On Tuesday a US drone attacked a compound in the tribal area of North Waziristan, killing five militants, security officials said.

The United States does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the unmanned aircraft in the region.

 

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