x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

US aid worker shot dead in Peshawar

Gunmen shot dead a US aid worker and his driver in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar today, police said.

PESHAWAR // Gunmen shot dead a US aid official along with his driver as he left his home in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar today, police said. The attack took place in a neighbourhood favoured by diplomats and foreign aid workers and close to the American Club. "As he was coming out of his home, the attackers opened fire on him and killed him along with his driver," a senior police officer, who requested anonymity, said. "He was working for US aid projects for tribal areas," he added. Peshawar has borne the brunt of a wave of Islamist militancy sweeping in from the rugged semiautonomous tribal region bordering Afghanistan, where al Qa'eda and Taliban fighters have taken root. The US embassy in Islamabad confirmed that an American had been killed, but withheld the name of the slain man. "An American citizen and his Pakistani driver were killed in an attack in Peshawar," acting embassy spokesman Wesley Robertson said. "The attack is currently under investigation and we are co-ordinating with the local authorities." Mr Robertson said the dead American was not part of the US diplomatic corps in Pakistan, but was serving in the country in a "private capacity". Abdul Qadir, a superintendent of police, told private Samaa television police had "close camera shots of the assailants" and had launched a search and cordon operation. Just hours after the shooting a suicide car-bomber killed three Pakistani soldiers and wounded four in an attack on military camp in the northwestern town of Shabqadar, 35km north of Peshawar and close to the Mohmand tribal region. Last evening, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a sports stadium in Peshawar, killing three people. Violence has surged in the north-west where Islamist militants have unleashed a wave of bomb and suicide attacks in recent months. US missile strikes in the tribal lands bordering Afghanistan have fuelled anti-American sentiment, while Pakistani security forces are engaged in fierce battles against Islamist guerrillas in the tribal region of Bajaur. Eight militants and a soldier were killed in an exchange of fire in the northwestern valley of Swat today, a military official said. There are expectations that Pakistan will launch a fresh offensive soon in Mohmand, another tribal region that lies between Bajaur and Peshawar. In late August, gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying three members of the US consulate in Peshawar, but they escaped unhurt after their driver took evasive action. Bombers have tried to attack the US consulate in the southern city of Karachi since the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qa'eda strikes on the United States. The US diplomat David Foy was killed when his vehicle was rammed by a suicide car bomber in Karachi in 2006. * Reuters