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23 killed in a suicide attack in Peshawar market

world Updated: Apr 19, 2010 22:21 IST
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At least 23 people were killed when a suicide bomber struck during a protest organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami in this northwestern Pakistani city on Monday, hours after a blast outside a police-run school killed a young boy.

The bomber detonated his explosive jacket in the famous Kissa Khwani Bazar at a short distance from a meeting organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami to protest frequent power cuts, witnesses said.

The blast occurred at about 6.30 pm.

North West Frontier Province Senior Minister Bashir Bilour said 23 people were killed.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Gulfat Hussain and senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Haji Dost Muhammad were among the dead.

Forty-two people, including policemen and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and workers, were injured, said Peshawar district administration chief Siraj Ahmed Khan.

He said the bomber was a teenaged youth who was part of the crowd that had gathered for the protest.

The bomber specifically targeted DSP Hussain and blew himself up after getting close to the police officer, Khan said.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and officials of the bomb disposal squad confirmed a suicide bomber carried out the attack.

Officials said they had found the bomber's head.

Witnesses said the bomber's explosive vest was packed with ball bearings that caused numerous injuries.

The blast caused widespread panic in the crowded market, which is frequented by a large number of people in the evenings. Security forces cordoned off the area as investigators scoured the site of the blast for clues.

Ambulances ferried bodies and the injured to nearby hospitals, where an emergency was declared.

Several cars were destroyed by the blast.

Footage on television showed debris, shoes and pieces of clothing lying in pools of blood on the road.

Information Minister Hussain said adequate security measures had been put in place for the protest organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami.

However, he said such suicide attack would continue till terrorists were completely eliminated.

Earlier in the day, a child was killed and 11 others, including nine students, were injured when a bomb went off outside the gate of the Police Public School in Peshawar.

Since last year, Peshawar has been hit by a series of bombings and suicide attacks that has claimed hundreds of lives.