PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide car bomber killed four security forces and wounded passing schoolchildren today in Pakistan’s volatile northwest, where the government is under pressure from Washington to crack down on militants.
Police said the attacker rammed his car into a vehicle carrying security forces on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of the embattled province where the military last week launched an operation to halt a push by the Taliban toward the capital.
The blast killed four troops and wounded eight of them, as well as wounding several schoolchildren, senior police official Safwat Ghayur said.
The latest suicide attack comes as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and President Barack Obama prepare to meet later this week in Washington for talks expected to address U.S. demands that Pakistan sharpen its fight against militants.
Zardari is expected to ask for more money to help his country’s battered economy and under-equipped security forces deal with the guerrillas.
Ghayur declined to speculate about who was responsible for today’s attack, but militants have claimed many such attacks since Pakistan joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and its allies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Taliban militants have threatened a campaign of suicide bombings in Pakistan in retaliation for U.S. missile strikes into the northwest and for a string of military operations by Pakistani forces.
Government troops last week fought their way into Buner, a district just 60 miles from the nation’s capital city of Islamabad, to reverse a Taliban takeover that triggered alarm in the West.
The army says it has killed more than 100 militants as it attempts to drive the militants back into their stronghold in the neighboring Swat valley.
The fighting has put severe strain on a controversial peace pact centered on Swat under which the government is introducing Islamic law in the surrounding Malakand division.
Washington has criticized the three-month-old deal. It wants Pakistan to crack down on the insurgents – not talk to them.