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Suicide Bombings Kill at Least 16 in Northwest Pakistan


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Two powerful suicide attacks struck different areas of northwestern Pakistan Saturday, apparently targeting the country's security forces. In the first attack, the bomber killed at least six people and wounded more than 60 others outside a police station in Bannu. Shortly thereafter in Peshawar's commercial district, another attacker exploded outside a bank affiliated with the Pakistani army, killing 10 people and wounding more than 70 others.

Authorities in Bannu say the suicide bomber exploded a small truck full of explosives, destroying the police station and surrounding buildings.

District Police Officer Iqbal Marwat says nearby civilians were wounded, but most of the casualties were police officers.

He says the attacker tried to ram the vehicle through the main gate, but then detonated the bomb after police opened fire.

Local media are quoting a representative for the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as taking responsibility for the bombing.

This is the first time the alliance of more than a dozen militant groups with links to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility since its former leader Baitullah Mehsud was reportedly killed in a U.S. missile strike. Analysts had suggested the group was in disarray following Mehsud's death.

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Hours later in Peshawar, officials say an attacker in a parked car threw a grenade at a crowd of people outside the Askari Bank before exploding in the car.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Senior police official Ghafoor Afridi tells VOA that the bomber bypassed multiple security checkpoints.

"There was checking all around. But somehow, it is not possible to check all vehicles, so they might have slipped a vehicle inside and exploded it," said Afridi.

Saturday's attacks come as the Pakistani military works to expand its offensive against the Taliban.

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