Suicide bomb kills at least 14 in Pakistan

In this photo from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Angelina Jolie, right, talks with a Pakistani about the flood’s impact during her visit to a camp for refugees in Nowshera.

Associated Press

In this photo from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Angelina Jolie, right, talks with a Pakistani about the flood’s impact during her visit to a camp for refugees in Nowshera.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A powerful suicide-bomb blast tore through a police compound in the northwestern Pakistan town of Kohat on Tuesday, killing at least 14 people — the latest in a string of attacks carried out by Islamic militants at a time when the government and security forces are struggling to cope with this summer's catastrophic floods.

The attack in Kohat, situated between Taliban insurgent strongholds in Pakistan's tribal areas and the volatile city of Peshawar, was the fourth militant strike in the country in a week. At least 102 people have been killed in those blasts.

The Pakistani Taliban, the country's homegrown insurgency closely allied with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the three previous attacks, which occurred in the eastern city of Lahore, the southern city of Quetta and the northwestern town of Lakki Marwat, on the fringe of the tribal belt.

The explosions in Lahore and Quetta last week were directed at large gatherings of the Shiite community, a frequent target of attacks by primarily Sunni Islamic militants. A police station was the target in the suicide car-bomb attack in Lakki Marwat on Monday. Children on their way to school were among the dead.

Bashir Bilour, leader of the ruling party in the northwest province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, said a suicide bomber rammed his pickup into the main gate of the police compound, which included a training center and housing for local police officers. The blast trapped many victims underneath piles of rubble.

Kohat's top administrative chief, Khalid Khan, said the explosion killed 14 people and injured 66 others.

"The majority of the injured people are women and children," said Mohammed Waseem, a local hospital official.

Insurgents appear to be exploiting the country's vulnerability as the military and police are preoccupied with relief for Pakistanis devastated by massive floods.

Jolie hopes tour helps raise relief money

American movie star Angelina Jolie met flood victims in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday and appealed to the international community to provide aid to help the country recover from its worst natural disaster. The flow of aid has stalled in recent days, and officials expressed hope the two-day visit by Jolie — who serves as a "goodwill ambassador" for the U.N.'s refugee agency — will persuade foreign countries and individuals to open their wallets. "I am very moved by them and I hope that I am able to, today and tomorrow, be able to do something to help bring attention to the situation for all of the people in need in Pakistan," Jolie, 35, told reporters after visiting a refugee camp in the Jalozai area. The United Nations issued an appeal for $460 million in emergency funds on Aug. 11, but only $294 million, or 64 percent, has been received so far.

Times wires

Suicide bomb kills at least 14 in Pakistan 09/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:00am]

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