A coordinated attack involving a remote-control bomb blast and a female suicide bomber killed seven people in Peshawar on Thursday, ending a stretch of relative calm in the volatile northwest city.
The blasts occurred at a police checkpoint in the city of 1.4 million people perched on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal belt along the Afghan border, where Taliban militants and their allies maintain strongholds. Plagued by scores of suicide bomb attacks in recent years, Peshawar has seen a lull in militant violence in the last few weeks.
Police said the remote-controlled bomb detonated near a police truck, killing at least four police officers and a nearby child. Several other people were injured in the blast, most of them police officers.
When police and rescue workers converged on the scene, a teenage female suicide bomber wearing a burka approached and threw a hand grenade at police before detonating her explosives-filled vest, said Shafqat Malik, a Peshawar senior police official. That explosion killed a nearby woman and injured three police officers. Malik said the vest only partially detonated.
Malik said the first blast was meant to draw a large crowd for the female suicide bomber to attack. “They have adopted this method of targeting rescue teams, the media and police,” he said.
Islamic militants’ use of women in suicide bomb attacks is rare but not unprecedented. In December, a burka-clad female suicide bomber attacked a United Nations food distribution center in the Bajaur tribal region along the Afghan border, killing 43 people. In June, the Pakistani Taliban claimed it armed a husband and wife with grenades, machine guns and suicide bomb vests to carry out an attack on a police station in the northwest village of Kolachi. That attack killed 10 people.
The tactic has been used more extensively in places like Iraq, where local customs make male police officers reluctant to carry out security searches on women.
Nasir Khan is a special correspondent in Islamabad