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Several killed, injured in suicide bomb attack on Peshawar Press Club

(PPF/IFEX) - Five people, including the suicide bomber, were killed and 23 injured in an attack on the Peshawar Press Club (PPC) on 22 December 2009. A large number of journalists were present at the press club at the time of blast.

Those killed included the suicide bomber, Riazuddin Khan, a police head constable guarding the press club, Mian Iqbal Shah, the press club's accountant and two passers-by.

Khurram Pervez, a photographer for the daily "The News", received chest injuries from shrapnel. PPC computer operator Yasir Jamil, canteen manager Muhammad Fayaz and security guards Ayub Khan and Kamran, as well as several pedestrians were also injured. The injured individuals were taken to the Lady Reading hospital for medical treatment.

The blast took place at 11:40 a.m. when a young man walked up to the gate of the press club. When police constable Khan stopped him from entering the building, the man blew himself up. The force of the explosion blew out the press club windows, damaged the guard hut and ripped through nearby vehicles.

Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in recent months in reprisals for the Pakistani military campaign against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in nearby tribal areas.

Shamim Shahid, the president of the PPC, said the press club had beefed up security after receiving threats and people coming to the club were properly checked. He said the press club had stopped political gatherings on its premises for security reasons.

The attack was widely condemned across the country. Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani issued declarations condemning it.

In a statement, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) said the attack on the PPC is a direct attack on the fraternity of journalists. The statement added that media personnel in the NWFP, Balochistan and other sensitive areas are constantly being threatened by terrorist groups, including the Taliban, in order to stop them from providing news coverage of their activities against citizens and their acts of terrorism.

The PFUJ asked the government to implement measures to ensure the security of media outlets and journalists throughout Pakistan and added that there had been reports that the media might be attacked in the current wave of terrorism.

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) strongly condemned the attack and said the terrorists were now not only issuing threats against journalists but also targeting media institutions. The APNS added that in spite of all the threats, Pakistani journalists have carried on with their duties and would continue to do so in the future as well.

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) said that the terrorists were penalising the media for playing a key role in the war against terrorism, but that these attacks would not deter journalists from continuing to provide accurate information to the masses.

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