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Three Dead in Blast at UN Office in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD – Two Pakistani women and an Iraqi national were killed Monday when a suicide bomber struck inside a heavily fortified UN office in the heart of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, police officials said.

The explosion inside the offices of the World Food Programme (WFP) comes after Taliban rebels vowed to avenge the death of their leader Baitullah Mehsud, killed in a US missile strike in August.

At least five people were also injured in the blast, with scenes of confusion around the walled compound and office in central Islamabad, where smoke billowed out and ambulances rushed to the scene.

"It was a suicide blast," said Bani Amin, deputy inspector general of police operations, adding that the bomber managed to enter the WFP office and detonate about eight kilograms (17 pounds) of explosives.

"Three people were killed, two of them are women and one is a foreigner. All the five injured are Pakistanis," the police official said.

"We have recovered legs and the skull of the suicide bomber. We are investigating how he managed to enter inside the building. There are scanners, there are cameras and strict security arrangements."

Amin later added that the foreign victim was an Iraqi national.

A local UN staff member at the scene said he saw one severed leg in the reception, while an AFP reporter outside the compound said he saw smoke coming out from behind the compound wall.

Another security official at the scene who asked not to be named said that up to nine people had been injured: "Among them four to five are foreigners."

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's office issued a statement saying he "strongly condemned" the blast and had ordered an inquiry.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Taliban militants holed up in the northwest tribal belt have been blamed for a string of attacks and suicide blasts that have killed more than 2,100 people in the last two years.

Three bomb blasts in the past two-and-a-half weeks in the northwest have killed 28 people, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for one of the blasts and threatening to unleash bigger assaults.

There was a lull in attacks after Baitullah Mehsud's death in an August 5 US drone strike, but analysts had warned that the new Taliban leadership would likely be keen to show their strength with fresh, dramatic strikes.


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