Car bomb kills 17, in­jures more than 40 at Pak­istan mar­ket

Blast close to of­fice of tribal of­fi­cial near Afghanistan bor­der.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­mal Khan

It ex­plodes in a crowded mar­ket in the trou­bled north­west tribal re­gion near the Afghan bor­der. Five boys and two women are among the dead.

PE­SHAWAR, PAK­ISTAN — A car bomb ex­ploded in a crowded mar­ket in Pak­istan’s trou­bled north­west tribal re­gion near the Afghan bor­der Mon­day, killing 17 peo­ple and wound­ing more than 40 oth­ers, of­fi­cials said.

The bomb went off near the women’s wait­ing area of a bus stop close to the of­fice of one of the Khy­ber tribal area’s top po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cials, said Hi­dayat Khan, a lo­cal government of­fi­cial. It was un­clear whether the of­fice was the tar­get, he added.

The 17 dead in­cluded five boys and two women, said Ab­dul Qu­doos, a doc­tor at a lo­cal hospi­tal in Jam­rud town, where the at­tack oc­curred. At least 44 peo­ple were wounded, he said.

The ex­plo­sives were packed in a small white car parked in the mid­dle of the road, block­ing traf­fic, said Shireen Afridi, who was nearby buy­ing a phone card when the bomb ex­ploded.

“There was fire in which chil­dren burned, women burned, poor Afghan peo­ple burned, and it caused a lot of de­struc­tion,” said Afridi. “Peo­ple’s heads were ly­ing in the drain.”

Lo­cal TV footage showed sev­eral cars and shops in the mar­ket that were badly dam­aged. Res­i­dents threw buck­ets of water on burn­ing ve­hi­cles as res­cue work­ers trans­ported the wounded to the hospi­tal.

The mar­ket was close to the of­fice of the as­sis­tant po­lit­i­cal agent for Khy­ber, said Khan, who works in the of­fice. Ini­tial re­ports wrongly in­di­cated the women’s wait­ing area was for the po­lit­i­cal of­fice, not the bus stop.

No group im­me­di­ately claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ing.

Khy­ber is home to var­i­ous Is­lamist mil­i­tant groups, in­clud­ing the Pak­istani Tal­iban, which has waged a bloody in­sur­gency against the government for the past few years.

Also on Mon­day, Tal­iban mil­i­tants fired rocket-pro­pelled grenades and au­to­matic weapons at an army con­voy in north­west Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing three sol­diers and wound­ing three oth­ers, said Nisar Ah­mad, a lo­cal government of­fi­cial.

The sol­diers were es­cort­ing a po­lio vac­ci­na­tion team out­side the town of Lakki Mar­wat when the at­tack oc­curred, said Wazir Khan, a lo­cal res­i­dent.

The Tal­iban have spo­ken out against po­lio vac­ci­na­tion in re­cent months, claim­ing the health work­ers are act­ing as spies for the U.S. and the vac­cine it­self causes harm.

A Pak­istani Tal­iban spokesman in the South Waziris­tan tribal area, Asim Mehsud, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity in a tele­phone call to The As­so­ci­ated Press. “Th­ese po­lio drops are a deadly Amer­i­can cam­paign to poi­son us,” he said.

In the south­ern city of Karachi, an un­known gun­man shot and killed a Pak­istani work­ing with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s anti-po­lio cam­paign, said po­lice of­fi­cer Qa­mar Ahmed.

Zubair Mufty, who works for the U.N. agency, said it was look­ing into the re­ported at­tack.

The army has car­ried out of­fen­sives against the Tal­iban in most parts of the tribal re­gion, in­clud­ing Khy­ber, but mil­i­tants con­tinue to carry out reg­u­lar at­tacks in the coun­try.

On Satur­day night, 10 Tal­iban mil­i­tants at­tacked the mil­i­tary side of an in­ter­na­tional air­port in Pe­shawar with rock­ets and car bombs, killing four peo­ple and wound­ing more than 40 oth­ers.

MO­HAMMED SA­J­JAD / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Peo­ple view dam­aged ve­hi­cles af­ter a blast Mon­day in Pak­istan’s tribal area of Khy­ber.

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