A fresh wave of terror gripped Pakistan's northwest on Thursday when a suicide bomber struck a court complex in Peshawar killing 19 people and injuring over 50, even as four militants were killed in a US drone attack in the restive tribal belt amid an anti-Taliban offensive by army.
The bomber exploded when he was stopped by policemen guarding the gate of the Judicial Complex on Khyber Road within Peshawar cantonment, considered a high-security area as the residence of the army Corps Commander, the NWFP assembly and offices of provincial ministers are located nearby.
Hospital sources said that 19 people were killed and more than 50 injured in the blast, the seventh attack to rock Peshawar in less than two weeks.
Three policemen were among the dead, said district administration chief Shahibzada Anees.
"The bomber was on foot and tried to enter the main gate of the Judicial Complex. When the security personnel stopped him and were searching him, he blew himself up," Anees told media at the site of the attack.
Police cordoned off the area and briefly blocked Khyber Road as ambulances ferried bodies and the injured to hospital. Witnesses said the bomber, a youth in his twenties with a slight beard, came to the area in a taxi.
Officials of the bomb disposal squad said eight to 10 kg of explosives were used in the attack which took place when the court complex was crowded.
Hundreds of people have died in a series of suicide attacks and bombings in cities across Pakistan since the military launched an operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan last month.
Nearly 120 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a busy market in Peshawar late last month.
North West Frontier Province Senior Minister Bashir Bilour said the government's campaign against militants would not be deterred by such attacks.
"Let them (militants) target us, our children and even the Chief Minister's House. We will not give up and we will keep fighting them," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, four militants were killed and five others injured when a US drone fired two missiles at a compound in a village in Pakistan's troubled North Waziristan tribal region.
The drone fired missiles at a compound in Shanakhora village just before midnight last night, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels.
Witnesses said they had seen four bodies being taken out of the rubble of the compound.
Drones have regularly targeted militant hideouts in Pakistan's tribal belt since last year, though there had been a relative lull in the attacks after the army launched an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan last month.
Pakistan publicly opposes the US drone attacks, describing them as a violation of the country's sovereignty but observers believe there is a tacit understanding between the two sides on the strikes. PTI