Twin suicide bombing in Pakistan kills 23 people

September 7, 2011 - 3:05 AM
PAK AL QAIDA

Map locates Quetta, Afghanistan, where a senior al-Qaida leader has been detained

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A pair of suicide bombers attacked the house of a top military officer in the southwestern city of Quetta on Wednesday, killing his wife and 22 other people, at least eight of them soldiers, authorities said.

Police said they were investigating whether the strike was revenge for the recent arrests of three top al-Qaida suspects in the city, an operation that was assisted by the CIA.

The first attacker detonated his vehicle next to group of Frontier Corp officers close to the residence of the force's deputy chief in the region. Hurling grenades, a second than stormed the house, blowing himself up inside, said police officer Naseer Ahmed Kurd.

The bombing follows just days after Monday's disclosure of the arrests of the three al-Qaida suspects. The army statement announcing it had stressed the level of CIA involvement, a possible sign of an upswing in the two countries often bad relationship.

American officials praised the operation, saying the detention of the most senior militant — Younis al-Mauritani — was a significant achievement.

The Frontier Corps took part in the operation, the army statement said .

"This attack was maybe in reaction to the recent arrests, but we are investigating," said police officer Hamid Shakil.

Shakil said at least 23 people were killed and more then 60 injured in Wednesday's bombing.

He said one of the suicide bomber has been identified as Ahmed Gul, a 21-year-old Afghan refugee. Shakil said the identification was made on the basis of a refugee card found with the body parts at the blast site.

Islamist militants are seeking to topple Pakistan's Western-allied leaders and take over the country.

Allied to the insurgents fighting U.S. forces across the border in Afghanistan, they have attacked hundreds of government, police, army and civilian targets since 2007 when the violence began in earnest. Many thousands have been killed, and Pakistani authorities have struggled to counter the threat.