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At least 20 killed in Peshawar blast

world Updated: Dec 05, 2008 22:14 IST
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At least 20 people, including three children, were killed and about 40 others injured in a powerful bomb blast targeting a prayer hall of the minority Shias in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Friday.

The blast took place outside an Imambargah in the congested Kucha Risaldar area of the walled part of Peshawar.

Local TV channels reported that at least 20 people died in the blast which occurred in the evening hours when Shia shoppers crowded the area ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha festival.

About 25-30 kg of explosives were used in the huge blast, which damaged nearby houses, police said. The explosion also triggered a fire in shops and warehouses in the area and caused a power outage, hampering rescue work.

The explosives were believed to have been hidden inside a vehicle. The blast also damaged windowpanes over a wide area.

Reports said three children and four women were among the dead. The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals where emergency has been declared.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. There have been several instances of Shia prayer halls being targeted in Peshawar and other parts of the North West Frontier Province in the past few months.

At least six people were killed and five others injured in a suspected suicide attack in a busy market in the restive northwestern Aurakzai tribal region this morning.

That attack too occurred when the market was packed with people shopping ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha. There was also a rush of people for the Friday prayers.

Officials said it was believed that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle after it was stopped at a check post set up by local tribesmen to prevent the entry of militants into Kalaya, the main town of Aurakzai agency, a region which witnessed sectarian clashes in recent months.

In Peshwar, the blast caused a five-foot deep crater.

The narrow lanes of the bazaar were littered with limbs and charred bodies. Ambulances rushed to the area to take the injured, including a number of women and children, to hospitals.

Pakistan is reeling from a spate of violence linked to a major military offensive against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants operating in its troubled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. More than 1,500 people have died in the past 16 months in bomb blasts and suicide attacks.