Terror has made its way from the badlands on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to the heart of the country’s capital. Eight members of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Constabulary force were killed on Saturday night in a busy commercial area of Islamabad when a suicide bomber threw himself on their picket. Eleven people were injured.
Following the attack, nervous police and paramilitary forces exchanged fire with each other, which caused panic in the locality.
<b1>The Frontier Constabulary is deployed outside diplomatic missions and to protect VIP homes. The camp was in an upmarket residential district close to some of the Pakistan capital’s most prestigious addresses.
Eyewitnesses said the bomber was a young man who entered the picket as the policemen were having dinner. They said he spoke Pushto, the official language of Afghanistan, and entered the inner portion of the picket after posing as a guest of one of the constabulary personnel.
The attack came on a day Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility for a shooting at a US immigration centre in New York state in which a gunman killed 13 people. Mehsud said it was revenge for the drone attacks.
US officials ruled out the claim and Pakistani security analysts dismissed it as a publicity stunt. This attack was the second in two weeks in Islamabad. On March 23, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a special police office, killing a guard and wounding three others.
Pakistan, a key US ally in the war on terror, has been hit by around 200 suicide and bomb attacks that have killed more than 1,700 since government forces fought radical gunmen holed up in a mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.
Police in Islamabad officials said they feared there were more suicide bombers in the vicinity. A search was launched soon after the attack. Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said police had cordoned off the area as a precautionary measure.
"We have arrested a suspect from the site and he is being interrogated,” Police Senior Superintendent Tahir Alam said. The attack caused fear and panic in Islamabad; shops and restaurants downed shutters soon after.