PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - A bomb-laden car exploded Saturday in
northwestern Pakistan as police were trying to pull a body from it,
killing seven policemen and a passer-by, authorities said.
It appeared to be the first time militants in Pakistan had
targeted security forces by using a body as a lure, and it
underscored the challenge facing Pakistan as it tries to root out
al-Qaida, Taliban and other insurgents based along its border with
The Saturday morning explosion comes less than a week after
gunmen attacked Sri Lankan cricket players in eastern Pakistan and
amid rising political turbulence from a court decision to bar an
opposition leader from office.
The turmoil in the nuclear-armed country is of concern to U.S.
and other Western officials, who need Pakistan to focus on
combating militants involved in the fight in Afghanistan.
The explosion occurred in the Badaber area, a small town on the
outskirts of the main northwest city of Peshawar, where residents
recently evicted a group of militants with help from the police.
The move prompted militant threats of retaliation.
Initially, senior police official Safwat Ghayur said a suicide
car bomber detonated his vehicle when officers at a roadblock
motioned it to stop near the Khyber tribal region, a part of
Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt where military forces have
staged offensives to stem militant activity.
But officials at the scene said further investigation showed the
police were led to a trap.
An area police chief, Rahim Shah, told The Associated Press
officers who were dispatched to Badaber after an unknown caller
alerted them to the presence of a body in a car parked not far from
a farm field.
"Police went there. They found the white car. They also saw a
body inside, but when they were pulling it out, the car bomb went
off," he said, calling it a "new technique."
Pakistan recently claimed victory in an offensive against
militants in Bajur, a nearby tribal region where the military and
insurgents have been battling since August. Officials also say they
are close to flushing out militants in nearby Mohmand tribal area.
But while the U.S. has praised those offensives, saying they
have helped reduce violence in neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan
has raised alarm bells in the West by engaging in peace talks with
Taliban militants not far away in the northwest's Swat Valley.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Friday urged
Pakistani politicians to stop feuding and unite to focus on the
"mortal threat" the country faces from Islamist militants.
Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif intends to lead a massive march
on the capital in the coming week after a court ruled he cannot
stand for office because of prior criminal convictions. The main
purpose of the so-called "Long March" is to push the government
to restore the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Miliband's comments followed Tuesday's attack on the cricket
players, in which gunmen killed six police and a driver and wounded
seven players. Miliband said it was "vital" that President Asif
Ali Zardari and Sharif "unite against the mortal threat that
Pakistan faces, which is a threat from its internal enemies."