(RFE/RL) -- Pakistan's restive northwest region was rocked this morning by deadly suicide car-bombings that targeted an office of the country's elite intelligence agency and a police station.
An early morning attack on the Peshawar headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) killed at least 10 people and injured 60. Seven of those killed in the brazen attack were military officials, and the bomb destroyed much of the agency's fortified three-story building, according to a statement issued by the Pakistani military.
Shortly afterward, about 300 kilometers south, a suicide car bomber attacked a police station in the Bkakhel tribal region of the country's Bannu district. That attack killed seven, including five policemen and two civilians, and injured 27.
A soldier wounded in the Peshawar attack told Reuters that the bomber in the Peshawar attack used a vehicle of the type that usually delivers medical supplies.
"All of a sudden it appeared on the wrong side of the road and began coming toward the office," said the soldier, who was identified only by his first name, Nasir. "The guards opened fire, but it came to the entrance of the building as the firing went on and exploded."
All of a sudden it appeared on the wrong side of the road and began coming toward the office.
The two bombings are seen as part of the escalation of militant attacks against security forces, civilians, and Western targets meant to counter a government counterinsurgency effort.
The country has suffered a number of deadly terrorist attacks in the six weeks, when the Pakistani military pushed into South Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold located in the country's western tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Nearly 400 soldiers, military officers, civilians, and aid workers have been killed since the military operation began in early October.'Completely New'
Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based author and commentator, tells RFE/RL that military operations alone won't be able to tackle the current terrorist problem.
"This is guerilla warfare and this is completely new in Pakistan. And it will take some time for the intelligence agencies to really nab those elements," Hussain says.
"What is happening now is that it's not only the Taliban coming from the tribal areas, but all the Pakistani militant groups who have been operating here and were proscribed have also joined them. And that has provided them depth and the capacity to attack wherever they want."
During the Soviet-Afghan war that lasted from 1979-89, the ISI supported Islamic militants fighting the Soviet occupation and was seen as having close ties to the Taliban movement that originated in Pakistan.
But after the ISI's relationship with the Taliban came under scrutiny following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the intelligence agency denied having ties to the group.
In recent years, the ISI has increasingly become a target of militant factions in the country.
Hussain notes that today's attack in Peshawar was the third attack against an ISI office in the past few years. The attacks have claimed the lives of more than 50 agency employees combined.