A suicide attack on a U.S. consulate vehicle in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar killed two people and injured 19, police said.
The U.S. embassy in Islamabad said in a statement two American personnel and two Pakistani staff of the Peshawar consulate were wounded in the bombing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack during a press conference in Jakarta and confirmed the U.S. vehicle had been targeted. Senior Peshawar police official Imtiaz Altaf, in comments made to reporters, gave no further details of those killed.
The blast, in an area that's also home to United Nations offices, badly damaged two vehicles, including a black SUV, and nearby power pylons, television footage showed. Channels broadcast images of an overseas passport found at the site of the attack. About 110 kilograms (242 pounds) of explosive material were used in the attack, Altaf said.
Taliban guerrillas, who oppose the country's alliance with the U.S. and are fighting Pakistan's army in tribal regions near Peshawar, bombed a U.S. Consulate vehicle in the city on May 20 last year killing two people and injuring 10, including two Americans.
Today's attack was at least the fourth in three years against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, the main city in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun zone, where the Taliban movement is rooted. In April 2010, Taliban guerrillas attacked the consulate with bombs and gunfire, battling Pakistani soldiers at defensive posts outside the mission.
In 2008, militants ambushed the armored car of the consulate's chief officer. While the diplomat, Lynne Tracy, escaped injury, gunmen killed a senior American aid worker in the city three months later.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has urged Pakistan to extend an army offensive in the country's northwest to the North Waziristan region, a base for Haqqani Network militants that the Obama administration has blamed for attacks on Kabul and international troops based in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's army chief, Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, said in response that Pakistan will decide when to start an offensive considering the readiness of its troops and the political will in the country. He ruled out allowing U.S. troops to fight on Pakistani soil.
To contact the reporter on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at email@example.com