Pakistani university blasts kill 4, wound 18

Suicide bombers attacked an Islamic university that has many foreign students in Pakistan's capital on Oct. 20, killing four, in apparent retaliation for an escalating army offensive on a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold near the Afghan border.

CA Online and wire services

2009-10-22

ISLAMABAD — Suicide bombers attacked an Islamic university that has many foreign students in Pakistan's capital on Oct. 20, killing four, in apparent retaliation for an escalating army offensive on a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold near the Afghan border.

The suicide bombers hit a faculty building and a women's cafeteria at the International Islamic University, where almost half the students are women and thousands are foreign nationals.

The blasts, which left pieces of flesh and body parts strewn on the floor, killed two male and two female students, and wounded at least 18 others. The two attackers were also killed, officials said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which some considered to have had an unlikely target for Islamist extremists, but the president of the university and authorities said they believed it was the work of militants in the northwest.

Authorities warned that the war would be brought to Pakistan's cities when the army began its offensive. Many schools and universities were closed after receiving word from authorities on Monday that they were potential targets.

After the attack, the government ordered all educational institutions closed for a week in three of the country's four provinces.

The university is attended by 18,000 students, 2,000 of whom are foreign nationals, many from China. While it is a seat of Islamic learning, most students take secular courses such as management science or computer studies.

"Those who call themselves champions of Islam have today proved by attacking the Islamic university that they are neither friends of Islam, nor Pakistan," said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

The army recently deployed approximately 30,000 troops to South Waziristan against about 12,000 Taliban militants. The military said troops backed by aerial bombing were advancing on three fronts, but were meeting stiff resistance from militants on high ground firing rockets and small arms. Four more soldiers have reportedly been killed, bringing the army's death toll to 13, while 12 militants have been slain, bringing their death toll to 90 thus far in the South Waziristan campaign.

[AP]

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