The death toll from an overnight car bombing rose to 29 in northwest Pakistan, unnerving a region already dangerously on edge following the attacks on India’s commercial capital, police and doctors said on Saturday.
About 100 people were also wounded on Friday when the bomb went off near Peshawar’s famed Storytellers Bazaar, wrecking a Shia Muslim mosque and a hotel and
setting a string of vehicles and shops ablaze, said Mohammed Khan, a local police official.
Television footage showed survivors frantically carrying bloodied victims through the rubble to private cars and ambulances as fire crews sought to douse the flames.
Neither the motive nor the culprits behind the blast were clear. But provincial government chief Haider Khan Hoti said “external forces” could be to blame — a comment understood in Pakistan to mean India.
Sahib Khan, a doctor at a main hospital said on Saturday that they received 20 bodies after the blast, while another nine injured died overnight. He said some of the injured were still in critical condition.
Suspected US missile strike kills three
Further adding to the tension, a suspected US missile strike reportedly killed three people in a stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda near the border with Afghanistan.
Escalating violence is destabilising Pakistan’s northwest just as the country faces accusations from archrival India that the gunmen behind the carnage in Mumbai last week were trained in Pakistan and steered by militants based there.
The provincial police chief, Malik Naveed Khan, said the bomb seemed to contain chemicals designed to spread fire.
Pakistan and the US have stepped up operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda strongholds in the northwest to curb mounting attacks launched from there on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.