Islamabad: Four people, including two Americans, were killed Monday when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a US consulate vehicle near a UN office in Pakistan's northwest city of Peshawar, a minister said. The US embassy, however, denied that its nationals were killed.
Mian Iftikhar, information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told the media that the explosives-laden car rammed into the vehicle carrying employees of the US consulate in Peshawar near the office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), killing at least four people, including two US nationals.
The US embassy here Monday promptly denied reports that two Americans had been killed in the suicide car bomb attack in Peshawar, reported Online news agency.
The blast took place at about 9 a.m. when one of two US consulate vehicles, escorted by three police vehicles, was hit by a suicide car bomber while the convoy was on way from the US consulate to the American club, said Farhan, a police driver who escorted the convoy.
He said the two Americans were sitting inside one of the two consulate vehicles when their Landcruiser got hit by the car bomb.
"It was a big blast and a five-feet-deep crater was left on the ground after the explosion", Xinhua quoted an eyewitness as saying.
One of the two Americans was identified as a man working as a technical administrator in the US Consulate in Peshawar, said media reports.
The identity of the other American was not yet known.
The US embassy denied reports that two Americans had been killed in the incident.
An embassy spokesman said they had no reports of any Americans being killed in the blast, after provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said two Americans had died.
The US Embassy in Islamabad released the statement by Department of State spokesperson Ambassador Victoria Nuland which stated: "We can confirm that a vehicle belonging to the US Consulate in Peshawar was hit in an apparent terrorist attack.
"Two US personnel and two Pakistani staff of the Consulate were injured and are receiving medical treatment. No US Consulate personnel were killed, but we are seeking further information about other victims of this heinous act. We stand ready to work with Pakistani authorities on a full investigation so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice."
However, Mian Iftikhar Hussain had said: "The blast killed two Americans. This is a dangerous move from the terrorists - they want to terrorise the foreigners." He further added that two Americans were also wounded in the blast.
Imtiaz Altaf, a senior police official, said that apart from the four policemen injured in the blast, at least 15 others, including two kids and a woman, were also injured in the attack.
Part of the UNHCR buildings near the blast site was also damaged.
There was some confusion over the toll with initial media reports putting the deaths at three in the blast that took place close to the UN refugee agency office. The toll was revised down to two and then subsequently raised to four.
A half-burnt US passport was recovered from the car that was badly damaged in the blast.
"The car targeted was a US consulate vehicle," one intelligence official was quoted as saying.
The suicide bomber rammed his car into the US consulate car, said another official.
Police estimated that up to 100 kg of explosives material was used in the terror attack that left a big crater in the road and destroyed a Jeep. The walls of four nearby houses were damaged.
The bombing took place barely four days after at least nine people, including two children, were killed and over 20 injured in a bomb blast in an auto workshop in Mattni Bazaar on the outskirts of Peshawar.
The bomb-proof consulate vehicle was destroyed in the blast.
Sources told Dawn that threats had been received two days ago about an attack on the US consulate after which security had been heightened.