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Suicide attack, bomb kill 13 in Pakistan

A Taliban suicide bomber flattened the home of a senior counter-terrorism officer in Karachi on Monday, killing eight people, as an attack on a market in Pakistan's northwest claimed five more victims.

world Updated: Sep 20, 2011 01:42 IST

A Taliban suicide bomber flattened the home of a senior counter-terrorism officer in Karachi on Monday, killing eight people, as an attack on a market in Pakistan's northwest claimed five more victims.

Senior Superintendent Aslam Khan escaped unhurt, but his home was destroyed and he said he knew he was the target, telling AFP that he had been threatened by the al Qaeda-allied Pakistani Taliban.

The Islamist militant group claimed responsibility for the attack and said Khan had been targeted for arresting, torturing and killing Taliban members.

It was the worst Islamist militant attack in Karachi, a city of 18 million, for months.

But it was the fourth attack since April in the Defence neighbourhood, an upmarket area once far removed from the sort of violence seen along the northwestern Afghan border.

Khan heads the counter-terrorism unit of the Police Crime Investigation Department in Karachi, investigating Islamist militant cells in the port city, which is a vital hub for Afghan-bound Nato supplies.

"It was a car bomb attack on my house," he said. "I was receiving threats from Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP). Taliban are involved in this attack."

Neighbouring houses were also wrecked and four cars badly damaged, with a two-metre (six-foot) deep crater in front of Khan's home, and rubble, mud and pieces of glass scattered over a large area, an AFP reporter said.

"Eight people including six policemen have been killed and several others were wounded," Shoukat Hussain, another senior police officer, told AFP.

"A child and a woman were also killed. It was a car suicide attack."

Speaking to reporters outside the remains of his bungalow, Khan said: "I woke up from sleep and saw fire around. I ran towards the other rooms of the house and saw my family safe but bewildered.

"This was a cowardly act of Taliban. I am not scared of Taliban. Let me tell you that I will not spare them in future."

Karachi city police chief Saud Mirza confirmed that Khan had received TTP threats, including one recent written threat.

"We claim responsibility for the attack. Aslam Khan has killed a number of our colleagues and also arrested and tortured many more," TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP in a phone call from an undisclosed location.

"He was on our hit list and he is still on our hit list," Ehsan said, giving names of several other police and crime investigation department officials also targeted.

"They will be killed soon," he vowed.

Witness Naeem Shaikh said he was taking his children to school when he heard a huge explosion.

"I went across a lane and saw this house destroyed and huge flames around it," said Shaikh, who lives in the area.

He saw the bodies of a boy, later identified as a second-year school pupil (aged eight or nine), and his mother lying near the house.

"The boy's schoolbag was lying abandoned nearby," Shaikh said, choking.

In May, Pakistani Taliban besieged Karachi's only naval air base for 17 hours, destroying two US-made surveillance planes and killing 10 personnel.

Monday's attack was the fourth since April in the wealthy and heavily-guarded Defence neighbourhood, where a navy bus was bombed, grenades thrown at the Saudi consulate and a Saudi diplomat also killed.

Hussain, the police official, told AFP that the force would now step up security for counter-terrorism officers.

Karachi has this year seen its worst ethnic and politically linked unrest in 16 years, with more than 100 people killed in one week alone last month.

The gang wars have been linked to ethnic tensions between the Mohajirs, the Urdu-speaking majority represented by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and Pashtun migrants affiliated to the rival Awami National Party.

Separately, a motorcycle bomb late Monday killed at least five people and wounded 28 others at a busy market selling CDs in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials said.

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Taliban militants have bombed music shops in several northwestern Pakistani cities and towns in the past, saying there is no room for music in Islam.

Nearly 4,700 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and al Qaeda-linked networks based in the country's northwestern tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.