South Asia

Pakistan: Suicide car-bomber strikes in Hangu

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Media captionThe bomb went off near several buildings and shops in Hangu

At least 32 people have been killed after a suicide bomber in a car struck government buildings in Pakistan's volatile north-west.

The bomb went off near several buildings and shops in Hangu, close to Pakistan's tribal areas, causing widespread damage.

The district's police offices are also in the area and officers are among the casualties, police say.

The Pakistani Taliban have said they carried out the attack.

Militant attacks have risen sharply since the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistani on 2 May.

Police official Latif Khan, said the blast had left a deep crater.

"The buildings housing the police station... were partially damaged but at least 15 shops, including a tea house and a restaurant are completely razed," he said.

The buildings also contain Hangu district courts, police said.

Pakistani official Mir Chaman Khan said 56 people were wounded. Most of the victims were civilians, and many had been in the restaurant, he added.

Witnesses said the blast was so powerful that they feared people were trapped in the rubble. The bomb contained about 900lb (400kg) of explosives, officials said.

Hangu, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, has a history of attacks by militants who frequently target the security forces.

The area also has a history of violence between its Shia and Sunni communities.

The attack came as Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Pakistan for talks with senior military and civilian leaders.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the blast, describing the attackers as "the enemies of humanity".

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP news agency: "We accept responsibility for this attack. This was a small attack to avenge Osama's martyrdom.

"Soon you will see bigger attacks. Revenge for Osama can't be satisfied just with small attacks."

On Wednesday, four people were killed and 22 wounded in a suicide lorry-bomb attack on a police station in nearby Peshawar.

On Monday, Pakistani troops ended a siege by militants who attacked a naval air force base in Karachi, killing at least 16 people, including 10 soldiers.