Gunmen attack Pakistani official's compound, 5 dead

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:46pm IST

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Four security guards and a civilian were killed in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday after gunmen, wearing police uniforms, raided the compound of a senior government official, officials said.

Two explosions were heard, followed by gunfire at the compound of top political official Muttahirzeb Khan, where tribal officials and members of political parties had gathered for talks.

Officials suspected the attackers were suicide bombers. It was not immediately known if they survived.

"A man in paramilitary uniform was standing next to the fence. I do not know if he was actually a paramilitary person or not, but he seemed to have been hit," said tribal politician Sharifullah Khan.

"When he moved, I suddenly thought he must be a suicider. So I stepped back, and as soon as I stepped back, he exploded."

A second tribal politician, Niaz Ahmad Khan, said some participants had just joined the meeting "when firing started inside the political compound, and then there was a heavy blast, and again heavy firing began.

"We were told by the officials to take shelter inside the office as the terrorists had attacked the political compound."

He said he saw two bodies and some injured people lying on the ground inside the compound in the northwestern city.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But the Pakistani Taliban have carried out similar operations.

Militants have stepped up attacks across Pakistan just months ahead of a national election. On Saturday, 85 people, most of them Shi'ites, were killed in the southwestern city of Quetta in an attack blamed on Sunni militants.

(Reporting by Jibran Ahmad; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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