Blast near Pakistan military HQ kills four

January 20, 2014 - 8:46:41 am

RAWALPINDI: A suspected suicide bombing in a market close to Pakistan's military headquarters on Monday killed at least four people, officials said, a day after one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent years.

Police and military officials said Monday's attack near the heavily fortified complex in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city, may have involved a suicide bomber.

It came a day after the Pakistani Taliban killed 20 soldiers and wounded 30 others in a suicide bombing in the northwestern town of Bannu.

The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) movement have been waging a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state since 2007, carrying out countless bomb and gun attacks, often on military targets.

Monday's blast, around a kilometre from the army headquarters, was powerful enough to smash windows in nearby buildings.

"Apparently it was a suicide attack," a military official told AFP.

"At least four people have been killed and 12 wounded."

Asad Malik, a resident in the RA bazaar area where the attack took place, told AFP that the intensity of the blast shattered windows in the area.

Muhammad Tuaqeer, a police officer in R A Bazaar, said soldiers had cordoned off the area and ambulances were taking the injured to the nearby military hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Shahidullah Shahid, the main spokesman for the TTP on Sunday threatened to carry more attacks after claiming responsibility for the bombing in Bannu.

The headquarters came under attack in 2009, when militants laid siege to the complex for 24 hours.

A total of 19 people died including eight militants.

Major naval and air force bases have also been targeted in recent years.

A senior Pakistani general was killed in a blast last September along with two other soldiers in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

The TTP vowed more attacks on Sunday, with Shahid saying the militants were seeking revenge for the deaths of their former chief Hakimullah Mehsud and deputy Waliur Rehman -- both killed in US drone attacks.

They said they would not engage in any dialogue with the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif following the death of Mehsud.

But Shahid told AFP Sunday the group "is ready for meaningful negotiations despite facing huge leadership losses, if the government proves its authority and sincerity" by halting drone attacks and withdrawing troops from tribal areas.

The civilian government led by Sharif, who came to power after elections last year, has said it is seeking talks with the Taliban.

But so far little progress has been seen and terror attacks rose 20 percent in 2013, according to the independent Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies. (AFP)