Taliban attacks schoolbus, killing four children and wounding 15


A PAKISTAN schoolbus filled with children has been attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade and assault rifle fire. Four children and the driver died in the assault, which took place in Peshawar and was admitted by the Taliban. Eighteen others, 15 of them children, were wounded.

The Pakistani Taliban, seen as the biggest security threat to the government, have become more brazen since their ally Osama bin Laden was killed in a US raid in Pakistan in May. The militants have carried out high-profile suicide bombings and attacked a major naval base and western targets. They have also stepped up pressure on tribes who oppose them.

“Our comrades attacked the bus which was carrying children from the Aka Khel tribe, whose people are fighting against us at the behest of the Pakistani army,” Taliban spokesman Mohammed Afridi said yesterday, speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location. “They have been told time and again to desist from any activity against us but they did not listen. We will continue to carry out such attacks.”

The Pakistani Taliban are holding hostage more than 20 young men  from another pro-government Pashtun tribe in an area straddling the border with Afghanistan and have demanded the release of scores of prisoners and an end to support of offensives against them.

The teenage tribesmen from Pakistan’s northwestern Bajaur region were abducted by the militants on August 31st while they were on an outing in Afghanistan’s border province of Kunar.

At Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, children, their uniforms soaked in blood, lay in beds with shrapnel and bullet wounds from the bus attack, which happened yesterday.

“We were in the van, going home like every day. Suddenly I heard an explosion and gunfire,”said eight-year-old Sabir.

Pakistan’s Taliban want to topple the US-backed Kabul government and impose their strict version of Islam on Afghanistan. – (Reuters)