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Death toll in volleyball game attack nears 100

As rescuers combed through the rubble of Friday's attack on a volleyball game in northwest Pakistan, officials said at least 99 people were confirmed dead.


AFP - The death toll from a suicide attack at a volleyball game in Pakistan rose to 99, police said Sunday, as authorities struggled to cope with one of the country's bloodiest ever bombings.

"A total of 99 people have been killed. There are 87 injured who are being treated in three different hospitals," Bannu district police chief Mohammad Ayub Khan told AFP by telephone from the northwest region.

Another police officer in the area, Habib Ullah Khan, confirmed the toll.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but police said the bomber came from South Waziristan, the neighbouring district where Pakistan has been waging an offensive on Taliban militants since October.

The area also neighbours North Waziristan, where suspected US drone attacks have increasingly targeted Al-Qaeda fighters and the Haqqani network, which is known for staging attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The volleyball tournament in Shah Hasan Khan village had been arranged by a local anti-Taliban militia, whom police suspect may have been the target.

"We have arrested 41 suspects and are interrogating them... This village is adjacent to the Bhitni area of South Waziristan and the bomber came from that area," the district police chief told AFP.

Medics at the hospital in the nearby town of Lakki Marwat said they were short of medicine and beds, overwhelmed with casualties.

"Even now the injured are under going treatment on the hospital floor. Some have brought their own beds," Doctor Usman Ali told AFP by telephone.

"My daughter died because of the poor facilities in the hospital. There was no bed, no medicine and not even the X-ray machine was working," shopkeeper Riaz Khatok told AFP from the hospital.

"There was nowhere else in Lakki Marwat to take the wounded. Most of the dead died because of bleeding," he added.

Suicide and bomb attacks blamed on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have killed more than 2,880 people in Pakistan since July 2007, increasingly targeting civilians as well as government security installations.

In October 2009, a car bombing in the northwest city Peshawar killed 125 people and a suicide attack at the homecoming of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto killed at least 139 people in October 2007.

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