Pakistan: Militants attack police station, kill 4

RIAZ KHAN Associated Press Published:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Suicide bombers armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked a large police station in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar early Friday, killing four officers in an assault authorities said was likely in revenge for offensives against nearby strongholds.

The attack was the latest in a spasm of violence in or close to Peshawar, showing that local militants retain the capacity to strike. The army has claimed success in its fight against militants behind five years of violence in the country, but the insurgents have proved resilient.

Peshawar has been a frequent target of militant attacks over the last few years, but most have been bomb blasts, not coordinated assaults in the center of the city such as Friday's attack.

City police chief Imtiaz Altaf said three militants entered the compound after attacking the main gate, then blew themselves up when police returned fire, he said.

"They wanted to occupy this police station, but they failed," he told reporters.

Four policemen were killed and six wounded in the attack, said police officer Sattar Khan.

There were more than 370 policemen at the station at the time of the assault, said provincial Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain.

Hussain blamed the attack on the Pakistani Taliban -- a group that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Pakistani government -- and speculated the attackers wanted to take the police hostage.

The number of policemen was so high because authorities send graduates of the police training academy to the station for 18 months before stationing them at other posts.

Altaf, the city police chief, said the attack was likely in revenge for ongoing military offensives in the region.

On Thursday, a car bomb killed 12 people at an outdoor minibus terminal in Peshawar.