Female suicide bomber strikes hospital in Pakistan, nine killed

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) – A female suicide bomber struck outside a hospital in Pakistan yesterday as the wounded were being brought in from an earlier shooting against police, in a complex assault claimed by the Pakistani Taleban that killed a total of nine people and wounded another 30.

Senior police officer in Dera Ismail Khan Salim Riaz Khan said gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on police in a residential area, killing two.

He said the bomber then struck at the entrance to the hospital, killing another four police and three civilians who were visiting their relatives. He said eight police were among the wounded, and that many of the wounded were in critical condition.

Local forensics expert Inayat Ullah said the female attacker set off seven kilogrammes of explosives packed with nails and ball-bearings.

The blast damaged the emergency room and forced it to shut down, according to a hospital official, who said the wounded were taken to a military hospital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

The Pakistani Taleban claimed the attack but did not acknowledge that the bomber was a woman. The group has launched scores of attacks going back nearly two decades, but almost all of them were carried out by men.

Pakistan’s military has carried out several major operations in recent years against the Pakistani Taleban and other militants in areas along the porous border with Afghanistan. The violence has declined, but the militants still make their presence known through occasional attacks, mainly targetting security forces and minorities.

Later yesterday, police said they had arrested 16 suspects in the attack, all of whom belong to banned organisations. Police officer Habib Ahmed said authorities also seized weapons during the manhunt.

Pakistani rescue personnel move an injured blast victim of a suicide bomb attack at the entrance of a hospital in Kotlan Saidan village on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan. – AFP