First woman suicide bomber strikes in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A woman suicide bomber blew herself up near a military checkpost in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday in the first suicide attack by a woman in the country, police said.

The woman, clad in an all-enveloping burqa, did not cause any casualties among troops at the checkpost when she detonated her explosives after she was challenged, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

“She was carrying a basket over her head. She blew herself up as she came close to the checkpost,” Tanvir-ul-Haq Sipra, Peshawar police chief, told Reuters.

Pakistan has seen a wave of suicide attacks blamed on Islamist militants amid rising violence in recent months.

Pakistani tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan have long been regarded as safe havens for al Qaeda and Taliban militants who fled U.S.-led forces hunting them in Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks in 2001.

But in recent months, militants have spread their activities towards urban centers in the country’s northwest, including Peshawar.

The army last month launched an operation in the scenic Swat Valley, also in the northwest, to flush out hundreds of pro-Taliban militants and their radical cleric leader.

The army said 230 militants have been killed during the offensive and scores captured. Twenty-five civilians and 15 soldiers have also been killed.

Meanwhile, suspected militants kidnapped six policemen on Monday after blowing up a security checkpost in the tribal region of Bajaur, near the Afghan border.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the incident but the official suspected militants linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban could be involved.

In the troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan, police arrested an Afghan man suspected of planting a bomb in an Islamic school that killed six people on Monday.

The man was caught after residents told police of a suspicious man staying with a villager near Qila Saifullah, the town where blast took place, said police officer Umar Farooqi.

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