Bombs explode at Peshawar police station
Suicide attackers have detonated two bombs near a police station in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least 13 people as violence in the country escalates ahead of a planned military offensive.
A car carrying 70 kilograms of explosives arrived at the main gate of the heavily fortified police station as a motorcycle carrying a man and a woman pulled up behind it, said Peshawar police Chief Liaqat Ali Khan.
The woman jumped off and ran toward a nearby housing complex where army officers live and detonated explosives she was wearing, while the man smashed the motorcycle into the car, which exploded in a huge fireball, Khan said.
It is unusual for women to be suicide bombers. Pakistan has not reported an attack by a female suicide bomber since December 2007.
The police building and a nearby mosque were badly damaged in the explosion.
At least three police officers and several criminal suspects being held inside the building were among the victims, Khan said. Officials at nearby hospitals said at least 15 people had been brought in with injuries.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks over the last two days. But the string of attacks appear to have been co-ordinated by the Taliban with the support of local groups, said Umer Virk, head of the Lahore anti-terrorist police.
Taliban militants have taken credit for a series of attacks over the last two weeks that have killed more than 150 people, including a siege of the army's headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that left 23 people dead.
At least 40 people died in three Pakistani cities Thursday when groups of gunmen launched attacks on three law enforcement sites in Lahore and detonated bombs in Kohat and Peshawar.
Analysts have said the attacks appear to be aimed at forcing the government to abandon a planned offensive in the militants' stronghold along the Afghan border.
The Pakistani military is preparing a ground offensive in South Waziristan province to clear the region of militants and has already begun air and artillery attacks in the region.
Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani reportedly met with political leaders in Islamabad on Friday to brief them on the planned offensive.
Military officials have not said when the ground operation would begin, but there has been speculation it is imminent. Two divisions totalling 28,000 men have been moved into the area, according to reports.
With winter approaching, any push would likely have to begin soon to be successful, according to analysts.
With files from The Associated Press