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U.S. Consulate In Peshawar Attacked, Taliban Claim Responsibility

An injured security official is rushed to a hospital after the attacks in Peshawar.

An injured security official is rushed to a hospital after the attacks in Peshawar.

At least seven people were killed on April 5 and several injured when Taliban militants launched an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Ambulances rushed to and from the area near the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar after militants armed with guns, some wearing suicide bomber vests, tried to attack the consulate building.

One of the suicide bombers reportedly blew himself up close to the gate of the consulate, but Pakistani police said none of the militants succeeded in entering the heavily fortified complex.

Witnesses reported hearing three large explosions followed by gun and rocket fire in the area around the consulate. There were unconfirmed reports that the consulate building was damaged, but there were no reports that any U.S. citizens or local employees at the consulate were killed or injured.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Azam Tariq, who claimed to be a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said the attacks were "revenge for drone attacks."

The United States is widely believed to be responsible for unmanned drone attacks that have killed scores of Taliban militants, including some of the group's leaders, in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border. A number of civilians have also been killed in those attacks. Washington does not comment on the use of drones in Pakistan.

The Taliban spokesman warned that more attacks would follow. "Americans are our enemies," Tariq said, vowing "we will target any place where there are Americans."

Political Rally Attacked

Tariq did not mention an attack earlier today at a rally for Pakistan's secular Awami National Party (ANP) in the town of Timar Girah.

Party supporters had gathered in the town to celebrate a recent decision to rename the province Khyber Pakhtwankhwah in recognition of Pashto-speaking ethnic Pashtuns.

Local police said a suicide bomber with eight to 10 kilograms of explosives on his body mingled with the crowd before detonating his explosives.

The ANP heads the regional government and supports government efforts against the Taliban there. The area is near the Swat Valley, where Pakistani troops and security forces carried out a major offensive last year.

ANP local chief Sultan Zeb was reportedly among those killed in the bombing. ANP spokesman Zahid Khan said "these people are neither Muslims, nor Pashtuns.... They are not even human beings."

Hashim Babar, a senior ANP leader in the region, told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that the attacks were a sign of desperation in the face of Pakistani military offensives, but also showed the militants are employing new tactics.

"I think big military operations are taking place in the Orakzai [tribal] area right now and what has happened in Peshawar today seems to be a reaction to these operations,” Babar said. “But the way these attacks were carried out in Peshawar shows that the terrorists are using new tactics. This is the first time that terrorist are not only carrying out bomb explosions, but some of them have taken positions on the rooftops of houses and are engaged in pitched battles with the security forces."

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani described the attackers as "miscreants...trying to spread panic among people in a desperate attempt to undermine the government's operations against terrorists."

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the attack, "part of a wave of violence perpetrated by brutal extremists who seek to undermine Pakistan’s democracy and sow fear and discord" and said the United States "stands with" the Pakistani people.

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and Radio Mashaal contributed to this report