The AP is reporting that a suicide car bomb hit an armored SUV of the US Consulate General in Peshawar. The attack reportedly killed two Pakistanis and wounded 19 other people, including two American personnel and two local staff of the consulate, as well as policemen who were protecting the Americans.
Updated @6:49 pm PST: Our source from the US Embassy in Islamabad says that the four were in the vehicle and were saved by accompanying local police who pulled them out after the attack – two Americans and two Pakistanis were slightly wounded. One American is in a hospital in Islamabad but injuries are not life-threatening. All four are part of the Diplomatic Security (Regional Security Office) at the Consulate General in Peshawar.
Excerpt via ctvnews.ca:
The armored SUV from the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was attacked as it traveled through a heavily guarded area of the city that hosts various international organizations, including the United Nations. It was unclear how the bomber penetrated the area and knew which vehicle to attack.
The car driven by the bomber was packed with 110 kilograms (240 pounds) of explosives, police said. The blast ripped apart the SUV – tossing its engine at least 6 meters (20 feet) away – and started a raging fire. Rescue workers and residents rushed to put out the fire and pull away the dead and wounded. All that was left of the SUV was a charred mass of twisted metal with a red diplomatic license plate.
Local news says that the US consulate vehicle was at Abdara Road in University Town when targeted by the car bomb. The explosion reportedly left a crater in the road and destroyed a Jeep, damaging two others and demolishing the facing walls of four nearby houses.
Department of State Spokesperson Toria Nuland confims that four consulate staff were wounded in the attack:
“We can confirm that a vehicle belonging to the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was hit in an apparent terrorist attack. Two U.S. personnel and two Pakistani staff of the Consulate were injured and are receiving medical treatment. No U.S. Consulate personnel were killed, but we are seeking further information about other victims of this heinous act.”
U.S. Embassy Islamabad also released the following statement by Charge d’affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland:
“I am grateful for the humane professionalism of the local Pakistani security forces who saved the lives of the two American Diplomats and two Pakistani local staff of the U.S. Consulate General Peshawar by pulling them to safety after their vehicle was attacked. In this dangerous world where terrorists can strike at any moment, we must all work together – Pakistanis and Americans alike – because we have a strong mutual interest in defeating terrorism.”
Peshawar, Afghanistan’s Near Abroad and a Recommendation of Possible Closure
In May 2012, State/OIG released its Compliance Follow-up Review of the US Mission in Pakistan. In that CFR, the inspectors points out that Peshawar remains the most dangerous post in the Foreign Service and that it should be viewed not just as a dangerous consulate general in Pakistan but what it termed as “Afghanistan’s near abroad,” that is, a location similar to one of the provinces of Afghanistan without the NATO coalition forces.
By all calculations, Peshawar is the most dangerous post in the Foreign Service. The OIG team believes strongly that Peshawar should be viewed as “Afghanistan’s near abroad” rather than a dangerous consulate general in Pakistan. The conditions are analogous to those faced in one of the provinces of Afghanistan, without the benefit of North Atlantic Treaty Organization security. The consulate general is located in the former consul general’s residence on a Pakistani military cantonment. Security is so dire that employees are frequently required to sleep in their offices on the very confined consulate compound rather than travel to their residences in town. Despite this situation, the employees have an unflagging commitment to the mission and good morale bolstered by a sense of teamwork. Given the U.S. Government’s commitment to our continued presence in Peshawar, it is critical that more be done to assist these beleaguered personnel. They are under constant threat of terrorist attacks and harassed by local government agents, it is difficult to impossible for them to travel in the region and their present existence is analogous to a state of siege.
It appears that the OIG team also made a recommendation about the possible closure of the Consulate General in Peshawar but since it is in the security annex, presumably in the classified portion of the report, we don’t know the actual wording of the recommendation except for the following contained in the publicly released report:
Of the 27 informal recommendations in the security annex, all but 1 was closed by the CFR. Informal Recommendation 19 regarding the ability of Consulate General Peshawar to develop a way to drawdown in the event of a catastrophic incident needs to be reevaluated. It was not reissued as a formal recommendation; however, a new recommendation regarding the possible closure of Consulate General Peshawar was added.
We have a separate post drafted on the newly arrived CG in Peshawar from last week that we have not been able to post due to duties beyond this blog. We hope to have that up in a bit.
- Pakistan attack targets Americans (edition.cnn.com)
- Suicide bomber wounds 2 Americans in Pakistan (businessweek.com)
- Two Killed in Pakistan Bomb Attack on U.S. Consulate Vehicle (bloomberg.com)
- Bomb Hits US Vehicle in Pakistan, Kills 2 (abcnews.go.com)
- 2 Americans among 4 killed in suicide attack near U.S. Consulate in Pakistan (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- Car-bomb rams U.S. gov’t vehicle (cbsnews.com)
- Deadly blast near US consulate in Peshawar (aljazeera.com)
- Peshawar blast targets US vehicle (dawn.com)