Bomb kills 33 in Pakistanís Peshawar


A man, center,cries over the death of his son, who was killed in a bomb blast, at a hospital in Peshawar. Photo - Reuters

Peshawar: A car bomb killed at least 33 people on Sunday in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said, the third deadly strike to hit the city in a week.

The bomb caused carnage in the busy Kissa Khwani market in the city, the gateway to troubled tribal regions which are a stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

"The blast killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 80 others," top local administration official Sahebzada Muhammad Anis said.

An official at Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital, Jameel Shah, confirmed the new toll.

Local officials said the blast took place near a police station but they did not initially believe it was the intended target.

"Police station does not seem to be the target as it was away from the attack site," bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik said.

"It looks like the market was the target."

He said a car parked by the roadside had apparently been converted into a remote - controlled bomb.

The blast caused major destruction, toppling a two - storey building and gutting several shops, an AFP reporter at the site saw.

Thick grey clouds engulfed the entire area after several shops caught fire. At least 50 shops were either damaged or completely destroyed.

Human limbs, blood, broken glass, stationery, blood-soaked clothes and sandals littered the road.

Rescuers pulled several bodies from a passenger minivan which was passing the explosives-laden vehicle when it exploded.

Officials and rescue workers were collecting human body parts and bodies and putting them in ambulances for over an hour after the blast.

"I was standing in front of a shop to buy ice cream for my ailing nephew who was with me when a deafening explosion rocked the entire area," Mohammad Sajjad, 26, who works in Saudi Arabia as a labourer, said in the hospital.

"The explosion was so intense that it threw me and my nephew a few metres, injuring both of us," said Khan, who escaped with a minor head injury.

Weeping relatives of the dead and injured gathered at the hospital as rescuers brought in bodies or small bundles of human remains.

Mohammad Wajih, 40, said he was repairing a customer's watch at his shop when there was a huge blast.

"Half of the face of my customer, who was standing just in front of my shop, blew up while several stray splinters hit his back," said Wajih, who was himself unhurt.

On Sunday last week a twin suicide attack at a Peshawar church killed 82 people, triggering nationwide protests by the Christian community and others demanding better protection for Pakistan's minorities.

On Friday a powerful bomb tore through a bus carrying government employees on the edge of Peshawar, killing 18 people.

Peshawar is the gateway of the semi-autonomous tribal belt that US officials consider a safe haven for Al Qaeda and other insurgents fighting both in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.

The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan faction has led a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state in recent years, carrying out hundreds of attacks on security forces and government targets.

Two weeks ago Pakistan's main political parties backed the prospect of peace talks with the militants, floated several times by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

But a series of attacks since then, including the killing of a senior army commander, have led many to question the strategy.

Pakistan is on the frontlines of the US-led war on Al Qaeda. Since July 2007 it has also been gripped by a local Taliban-led insurgency, concentrated largely in the northwest. 

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