Monday, February 19, 2018

U.S. calls bomb attack on consulate vehicle in Pakistan a 'heinous act'

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, U.S. officials said.

The vehicle belonging to the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was attacked as it traveled through University Town, an upscale neighborhood where several international organizations have 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 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 impact of the blast engulfed the consulate vehicle in flames and left a gaping crater in the asphalt.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Nuland called it a "heinous act" and said the United States 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, an 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.

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