Police say suicide bomber kills 2 civilians in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley

MINGORA, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy market area in the main city in Pakistan's Swat Valley on Saturday, killing two civilians in the northwestern region wrested from the Taliban last year, police said.

Senior police official Qazi Ghulam Farooq said six others were wounded when the attacker detonated the bomb after police surrounded him in the city of Mingora.

The attack happened shortly after security forces arrested one militant and killed another following a tip-off that three suicide bombers had entered the area, he said.

Farooq initially said a bomb had exploded but later told reporters that a suicide bomber had been surrounded by police, and he detonated his device when asked to surrender.

The blast damaged vehicles and several shops, where the casualties occurred, he said.

The violence raised fears that the Taliban are returning in a region where the army waged a major offensive against the extremists last year — part of a broader military campaign against militants across the volatile northwest.

Once a favorite tourist destination in Pakistan, the picturesque Swat Valley began falling under the Taliban's sway in 2007. Despite small army offensives, the valley fell under insurgent control that lasted until 2009.

Authorities initially tried to ensure peace there through talks and even agreed to enforce Islamic laws to meet a demand from the local Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah, who was leading insurgents.

But the efforts failed when militants began to infiltrate the Buner region just south of the valley. Subsequently, the military launched a major offensive and took back the region in mid-2009. Periodic militant attacks have persisted since then.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb exploded near a police vehicle in southwestern city of Quetta on Saturday, wounding seven people, police official Ghulam Nabi said.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, where ethnic Baluch nationalists have waged a slow-scale insurgency for years to demand more autonomy and a greater share of income from the area's natural resources.


Associated Press Writer Abdul Sattar contributed to this report from Quetta.

Eds: Corrects that attack was from suicide bomber, sted bomb device, adds more detail; MINOR edits.