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One foreigner killed in Pakistan explosion

A blast at an Italian restaurant in Islamabad kills a Turkish woman and wounds 11, eight of them foreigers.

world Updated: Mar 16, 2008 00:51 IST
Kamran Haider

A foreign woman was killed and US embassy staff were wounded in a bomb attack on a restaurant in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Saturday night, police said.

Police Deputy Inspector General Shahid Nadeem Baloch said the victim was a Turkish woman who worked for a relief agency. Baloch said 11 people were wounded, 8 of them foreigners.

Doctors at the hospital where the dead woman was taken gave conflicting accounts, identifying her as an American nurse working at the US embassy.

"US embassy staff were among those wounded," US embassy spokeswoman Kay Mayfield said, but she could not confirm any death.

Pakistan has been battling Islamist militancy since joining the US-led campaign against terrorism after the Sept 11 attacks on the United States.

More than 500 people have been killed this year in militant-related violence, including a wave of suicide bombings.
Bombers have targeted US diplomats several times in the past. A suicide bomber killed a security guard outside Islamabad's Marriott hotel last year, but attacks on soft targets like restaurants frequented by foreigners would mark a change in militant tactics.

DEAFENING BLAST

A witness said the explosion occurred in a garden dining area at the rear of the Luna Caprese restaurant, which is frequented by expatriates, including diplomats, aid agency workers, and journalists.

"It was deafening. We pulled out at least eight people from the wreckage. Most of them were foreigners," Tariq Mahmood, a waiter at the restaurant, told Reuters.

Policeman Baloch said the bomb blast had left a crater, and ruled out any possibility that it had been a suicide attack. Storeowner Khalid Qureshi raced across the road from shopping complex opposite the restaurant to help the wounded.
"There were bodies lying everywhere, people were screaming and shouting," Qureshi said. Abdul Hakeem, a passer-by, told Reuters he helped bring out around a dozen wounded.

Pakistan has experienced months of political turmoil over opposition to President Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf's allies were routed in a parliamentary election last month. The campaign was overshadowed by the assassination in December of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.