Bomb planted outside store kills 4 in NW Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A homemade bomb placed outside a store in northwestern Pakistan where locals watch movies exploded today, killing four people, including a child, said officials.

The attack, which also wounded 21 people, occurred on the outskirts of Peshawar, a city near the Afghan border that experienced a wave of bombings at the end of last year but has been fairly quiet in recent months.

Officials earlier said the explosion was caused by three suicide bombers who were attempting to attack a security convoy. It was unclear what prompted the erroneous report.

The shop that bore the brunt of the blast often screened movies on a large television, said Liaquat Ali Khan. The explosion also damaged three other shops nearby, he said.

Two men were killed instantly, while two others, including a child, succumbed to their injuries after arriving at a local hospital, said medical official Jamal Shah.

The bomb appeared to contain some 11 pounds of explosives, said police explosives expert Shafqat Malik.

Pakistan has been plagued by a Taliban-led insurgency that has killed thousands of people over the past few years, many of them in the volatile northwest. The government has fought back with a series of military offensives to deny militants sanctuary along the Afghan border.

The largest operation so far was launched in October in the South Waziristan tribal area, the major stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The ground invasion sparked a wave of attacks that killed over 600 people, many of them in Peshawar.

The decline in attacks since the beginning of the year may indicate the military operations have had some success in disrupting the militants’ activities.

Pakistan has also suffered frequent sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, especially in the southern city of Karachi.

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the leader of a hard-line Sunni group in Karachi today along with three other people as they were riding in a vehicle, said Jamil Soomro, the government spokesman for surrounding Sindh province.

Soomro said authorities suspected Shiites in the attack, which killed Mufti Saeed Jalal Duri, the head of Khatme Nabuwat, along with his son and two other men.

The shooting followed a similar attack this morning against Mulana Nadim Ghafoor, the local Karachi leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned Sunni militant group that has carried out attacks against Shiites, said Soomro.

The attack seriously wounded Ghafoor and killed his son, he said.

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