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A powerful car bomb in the border city of Peshawar has left more than 10 dead and dozens wounded in an apparent attack on the regional headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence agency, which has long been accused by Western officials of having ties to militant groups.
Reuters reports that the attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) building appears to have been delivered by a suicide bomber driving a medical-supply vehicle, according to one of the wounded soldiers at the scene.
"All of a sudden [the vehicle] appeared on the wrong side of the road and began coming toward the office," the soldier, Nasir, told Reuters. "The guards opened fire but it came to the entrance of the building as the firing went on and exploded."
It was not clear how many people were in the building when the bomber struck at about 6:40 a.m. (8:40 p.m. EST Thursday), before the city's rush-hour.
Up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of high explosives and mortars were packed into the car bomb," North West Frontier Province police chief Malik Naveed told AFP.
AFP also reports that six policemen were killed and 23 others were wounded in a second car-bomb attack Friday, on the police station in the town of Bannu, outside Peshawar.
The New York Times writes that Peshawar has been particularly in the sights of militants. The city, located near the border with Afghanistan, has been targeted with near daily bombings in an attempt to undermine the Pakistani people's support for the ongoing military campaign against the militants in South Waziristan, says one expert.
"The underlying idea is to shake the people's confidence in the military's efforts," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military analyst in Lahore. "It's a kind of strategy — well planned, well thought-out — to pressure the government through ordinary people." ...
Mr. Rizvi, the military analyst, said he believed that violence in Pakistan would be reduced over time as the military made more progress in its operation in Waziristan.
(Click here for an interactive map from the Wall Street Journal which highlights the frequency of attacks around Peshawar over the last several weeks. The map also summarizes other militant activity across Afghanistan and Pakistan day-by-day since February.)
The bombing was the second against an ISI site this year. In May, a suicide bomber attacked an ISI building in Lahore, leaving 30 dead and more than 250 injured. The attacks highlight the growing hostilities between the agency and militants, whom Western officials have repeatedly accused of collaborating with each other. A New York Times story in March reported that the ISI's "S Wing" gave support to Taliban commanders operating in Afghanistan, as well as other militant groups, according to American and Pakistani security officials. And in an interview with CNN last week, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said that the ISI had an "ingress" in every local militant group, and used that influence to Pakistan's advantage, according to India's Daily News & Analysis.
"Always, in every group, there is an ingress of the ISI. And that is the efficiency, the effectiveness of the ISI. You must have ingress, so that you can influence all organisations," Musharraf told CNN.
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman refused to comment, saying he was unaware of the interview and that if Musharraf had said anything to that effect, the remarks must be "actually" coming from the security agencies to defend themselves.
DNA adds that Mr. Musharraf's lawyer said after the interview that Musharraf was referring to the ISI before the Sept. 11 attacks, and that the ISI-militant relationship changed after the attacks.