At least 23 people, including 3 police officials, were killed Monday when a suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowded bazaar in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. An eight-year-old boy was killed in a separate incident.
AFP - At least 24 people including a child and police officials were killed Monday in bombings hours apart at a high school and a crowded market in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials said.
The attacks take the number of people killed in bombings in northwest Pakistan to 73 in three days, after weekend suicide strikes bearing the hallmarks of Taliban militants left 49 people dead in the city of Kohat.
As dusk fell Monday at Peshawar's busy Qissa Khawani Bazaar, a suicide bomber walked into the crowd and detonated explosives, scattering shoes and human limbs on the street and destroying cars, witnesses said.
"Twenty-three people were killed including three police officials. At least 27 people have been admitted to the hospital," senior police official Imran Kishwar told AFP. Senior provincial minister Bashir Bilour confirmed the toll.
Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik told reporters that the blast was caused by a bomber wearing a suicide vest packed with steel pellets, ball-bearings and six to eight kilogrammes (13 to 17 pounds) of explosives.
"We have recovered the head and legs of the attacker," he said.
Hardest hit were supporters of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), who were still crowded in the area after staging a protest against soaring inflation and crippling power shortages.
"We were burning tyres after the protest. We had set one tyre on fire when a deafening blast rocked the whole area," JeI party worker Saifullah said.
Mujibur Rehman, a book seller in the bazaar, told AFP: "I heard a huge blast soon after the crowd was dispersing. There was smoke everywhere and body parts were scattered on the ground."
JeI deputy head Siraj ul Haq said he believed 25 party members had been killed, giving a slightly higher death toll than the police.
"There are many groups and agencies involved in the acts of terrorism but this is the failure of government who are responsible for the protection of citizens," he told AFP.
The attack came hours after an eight-year-old boy was killed and at least ten people were injured in a bombing outside a high school in Peshawar, which struck as students were wrapping up the school day.
"It was an IED (improvised explosive device) planted near a shop. It was a timed device. School children were the target," senior police official Mohammad Karim Khan told AFP.
Police officials did not say who had planted the bomb in the city plagued by Taliban attacks.
The incident came after three suicide attacks in 24 hours killed 49 people in the nearby northwestern city of Kohat.
Seven people were killed Sunday as a bomber tried to target a police station; on Saturday two suicide bombers dressed in all-covering burqas struck a crowd of people collecting aid handouts, killing 42.
A campaign of suicide attacks and bombings blamed on Al-Qaeda, Taliban and other extremist Islamist groups has killed more than 3,200 people in less than three years across the nuclear-armed country of 167 million.
Under US pressure, Pakistan has in the past year significantly increased operations against militants in its tribal belt, which became a haven for hundreds of extremists who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion.
In the two attacks on Saturday the bombers struck minutes apart in the Kacha Pukha camp on the outskirts of Kohat, a registration centre for people fleeing Taliban violence and Pakistani army operations close to the Afghan border.
The attacks reflected the grave threat posed by extremists despite the stepped-up Pakistani offensives and a significant increase in US drone attacks targeting Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked commanders in the nearby tribal belt.
Date created : 2010-04-19