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Pakistani Police Detain Journalist, Guard After Bomb Found Beneath Car

Pakistani security officials at the scene of a bomb attack that targeted a senior police officer in Peshawar on November 24.
Pakistani security officials at the scene of a bomb attack that targeted a senior police officer in Peshawar on November 24.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Pakistani security forces are holding a journalist in custody and have and detained a security guard at a press club in the Khyber tribal region, a day after a bomb was discovered beneath a car used by four journalists in northwestern Pakistan.

The detained journalist, Khalid Afridi, works for the Khyber News TV Channel. He was one of the four journalists traveling in the car on November 24 when the magnetic bomb was discovered.

The group, which also included RFE/RL correspondent Farhad Shinwari, was covering a vintage-car rally in the Khyber tribal region.

Afridi rented the car in the town of Jamroud, where the car rally began, and was traveling ahead of the race with the three other journalists when two men in a vehicle behind them spotted the explosives.

At a checkpoint near Landi Kotal at the western edge of the Khyber Pass, the two men warned the journalists and the Khasadar paramilitary police there.

A bomb-disposal unit from Pakistan's Frontier Corps defused about 2 kilograms of explosives.

An unnamed security official said that, if detonated, the powerful device would have killed the occupants of the car and would have caused multiple casualties among anyone nearby watching the car rally.

Security officials said the bomb appeared to be "locally manufactured" in Pakistan.

Initially, police detained all four journalists along with the two men who spotted the explosives.

Shinwari said he and two other journalists were released shortly after midnight on November 25. He said Afridi was still being held on November 25 because the car had been rented in his name. Afridi was not immediately charged.

"When we were stopped and told there were explosives attached under our vehicle, we were terrified," Shinwari said. "We were so close to being killed. And then we suffered through the pressure of the interrogation as if we were responsible for planting the bomb. It was very disturbing."

The authorities also detained a security guard at the Jamroud Press Club responsible for the parking lot where Afridi left the car earlier in the week.

Authorities were questioning the press club security guard on November 25.

After the discovery of the explosives, authorities stopped local media from covering the car rally -- which began at the Bad-e Khyber border crossing with Afghanistan and was continuing to Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.

Earlier on November 24, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed a senior regional police official in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where Pakistani Taliban often target security forces.

A person who claimed to be a spokesman for the militant Lashkar-e Islam (Army of Islam) group called RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on November 24 and claimed responsibility for the attack.

That claim could not immediately be independently confirmed.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal correspondent Khalid Khan in Peshawar and