A car bomb tore through a crowded market in Peshawar on Wednesday, killing at least 100 people, in one of Pakistan’s deadliest terror attacks ever.
The attack came within hours of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton arriving in Islamabad on her first visit to the country after assuming office.
The blast at Peshawar’s Meena Bazaar, one of the most congested areas of the old city, sparked off a huge fire.
Clinton is expected to talk to Pakistani officials and meet people from civil society to clear misconceptions about the Kerry Lugar bill and highlight the help the Obama government proposes to give Pakistan.
Horrific, heart-rending scenes were witnessed after the blast that killed many women and children. Information minister Iftikhar Husain claimed that most of the victims were children. Local media quoted eye witnesses saying that they had seen body parts strewn all over the area. The injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital and other hospitals nearby.
Police officials said that the car carried almost 150kg of explosive material. “We are doing all that we can. But it seems this is not enough,” said provincial minister Ilyas Bilour.
The Peshawar bomb blast comes at a time when Pakistani forces are engaged in intense fighting with militants in the Waziristan region.
On Wednesday, army spokesman Athar Abbas said 25 more militants had been killed in the past 24 hours. He said that the army was targeting the militant leadership and had succeeded in making strategic gains.
‘It was like a massive earthquake’
Peshawar: As the wounded tried to flee, they were engulfed in flames and buried alive by falling masonry.
With one deafening boom, a congested Pakistan street full of women and children was transformed into hell.
“It was like a massive earthquake. Everything in my shop fell on me. There was so much smoke. When everything fell on me I passed out,” clothes shop owner Ali Akhbar told AFP from his hospital bed in the city Peshawar.
Rescue workers fished out charred bodies from the debris where a woman was buried in the rubble near a mosque, three buildings and five cars that were destroyed in scenes of armageddon, an AFP reporter said.
Bodies were trapped under huge slabs of concrete and crumbling bricks, the slow rescue heavily constrained by the collapsed buildings, pushing the death toll ever higher as cranes were mobilised to pluck survivors to safety.
(With inputs from AFP)