/ 28 October 2009

Bomb kills more than 30 in Pakistani city of Peshawar

A bomb in a crowded market killed more than 30 people and wounded scores on Wednesday in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials said.

The blast came several hours after United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan pledging a fresh start in relations with an increasingly embattled and sceptical partner in the struggle against Islamic militancy.

The bomb went off in the busy Peepal Mandi market street in Peshawar’s old city, sparking a fire that engulfed several buildings.

Sahib Gul, a doctor at the city’s main hospital, said more than 30 bodies had been brought in, along with more than 50 wounded.

”We have more than 30 deaths but the number could rise,” Gul told Reuters.

”We also have a lot of wounded, but we don’t have room for them all so we’re moving some of them to another hospital.”

”So far we have 30 people killed and 100 wounded,” Sahibzada Anis, Peshawar’s top administration official told Reuters.

Pakistan is on high alert amid fears of retaliatory strikes by Pakistani Taliban militants as the army attacks their strongholds in South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

The offensive came after a series of brazen attacks on the United Nations, army headquarters, police and general public, in which more than 150 people were killed.

There have been several bomb attacks since the offensive began.

Wednesday’s blast caused serious damage in the neighbourhood of old wood and brick buildings, busy streets and narrow lanes.

”Several buildings and a mosque have been badly damaged while a fire has engulfed a building,” witness Aqueel-ur-Rehman told Reuters from the scene.

”I can see three bodies lying under the debris,” he said.

The army launched the offensive on October 17 and says it is making steady progress as soldiers push towards the al-Qaeda-linked militants’ bases in the region’s rocky mountains and patchy forests. — Reuters