A suicide bomber rammed a car filled with explosives into a U.S. government vehicle in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing two Pakistanis and wounding 19 others including two Americans, officials said.
The attack in the city of Peshawar was a vivid reminder of the danger U.S. officials face while working in Pakistan, especially in the country’s northwest where Taliban and al-Qaida militants are strongest. Insurgents have carried out scores of bombings in Peshawar in recent years, but attacks against American targets have been relatively rare because of the extensive security measures were taken by the U.S. government.
Pakistani rescuers and security personnel gather at a bomb blast site in Peshawar.
The bomber struck the armored vehicle after it left the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar and while it was traveling through an area of the city that hosts various international organizations, including the United Nations, said police officer Pervez Khan, who was part of the security escort for the vehicle as it moved.
The attack killed two Pakistanis and wounded 19 other people, said senior police officer Javed Khan.
Two Americans and two Pakistanis working at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar were among the wounded, said State Department spokeswoman Toria Nuland, who called the attack a “heinous act.”
Pakistani security officials inspect the scene of a suicide car bomb attack targeting a convoy of the US consulate, in Peshawar. The attack came two days after the Taliban threatened to target US interests in the city. EPA/ARSHAD ARBAB
The injuries to the Americans were not life-threatening, said a U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been officially released.
“We stand ready to work with Pakistani authorities on a full investigation so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice,” said Nuland.
The car driven by the suicide bomber contained 110 kilograms (240 pounds) of explosives, Pakistani police officer Abdul Haq said.
The blast ripped apart the SUV carrying the U.S. Consulate employees and triggered a raging fire. Rescue workers and local residents rushed to put out the fire and pull away from the dead and wounded. All that was left of the SUV, in the end, was a carcass of blackened, twisted metal.
Irfan Khan, a local resident, said he was at a nearby shop when the blast occurred. “I quickly looked back in panic to see smoke and dust erupt from the scene,” he said. “I ran toward the scene along with others and saw two vehicles destroyed and the larger vehicle on fire.”