Pakistan trains 8,000 to protect nuclear arsenal

November 7, 2011 - 6:50 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani military says it is training 8,000 additional people to protect the country's nuclear arsenal.

The United States fears Pakistan's nuclear program could be vulnerable to penetration by Islamist militants at war with the West.

Those fears were heightened by a recent article in The Atlantic magazine that quoted unnamed officials as saying Pakistan transports nuclear weapons components around the country in delivery vans with little security to avoid detection — a claim denied by Islamabad.

Pakistan rarely reveals details about its nuclear program or the security around it. The military's announcement Sunday that it is training 8,000 additional guards could be seen as a response to the magazine article.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives Monday as a former government official greeted others outside a mosque in northwestern Pakistan on an important Islamic holiday, killing the official and his guard, police said.

Malik Hanif Khan Jadoon had just finished morning prayers celebrating Eid-al-Adha at the mosque in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when the attack occurred, said Ijaz Khan, a senior local police officer. Jadoon and his guard were killed and nine others were wounded, including the former official's son, said Khan.

Jadoon used to be a senior official in Swabi and was a member of the Awami National Party, a Pashtun nationalist party whose members have often been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban.

There has been no claim of responsibility yet for Monday's attack.

The Pakistani Taliban is also predominantly made up of Pashtuns, but they resent the secular Awami National Party, which is the ruling party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The party has opposed the spread of the Taliban in the province and supported military operations against them.