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PAKISTAN

Third bombing in a week in Peshawar, Pakistan, leaves at least 33 dead

Car explosion that wrecked city's oldest bazaar comes after attacks that killed 104 in same week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 12:47pm
 

A car bomb killed at least 33 people yesterday in the third blast in a week to hit the troubled northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar.

The explosion appeared to have been caused by a bomb in a parked car and detonated by remote control, police said.

It went off in a crowded market that is the city's oldest bazaar, near a mosque and a police station. The mosque and shops were damaged and vehicles set on fire. More than 70 people were wounded.

Video: Bomb kills dozens in Pakistan's Peshawar

Such attacks in the city, which is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, have claimed over 130 lives since September 22, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of worshippers at a church, killing 85 people.

Then last Friday, 19 people died when a bomb planted on a bus carrying government employees home for the weekend exploded on the outskirts of Peshawar.

The bomb that went off yesterday was about 300 metres from the All Saints Church, which was the scene of the previous Sunday's carnage.

A book shop owner, Nazar Ali, had just opened his shop when the explosion occurred.

"It was a huge blast that was followed by fire in vehicles. Thick black smoke filled the air and splinters spread all over. I saw people lying dead and bleeding all over," he said.

Many of the old buildings used in the historic Qissa Khawani market are constructed from wood, which easily caught fire when the bomb went off, said police chief Shafqat Malik.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blame for the attack is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban and its affiliates.

The militant group has been battling troops in northwestern Pakistan with the aim of overthrowing the government and establishing a hard-line Islamic state across Pakistan. The new government of Nawaz Sharif has said it would like to negotiate with the militants to end the bloodshed.

But so far those efforts have made little progress and attacks have continued.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban criticised Sharif, saying his comments that the militants must lay down their weapons and respect the constitution indicated the new leader was not serious about peace negotiations.

Previously, Sharif had not given preconditions for the talks.

"By telling us that we will have to lay down arms and respect the constitution, the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, showed that he is following the policy of America and its allies," the Tehreek-eTaliban spokesman said.

"We will hold talks with [the government] only when it gets the real power to take decisions."

Also in northwestern Pakistan, two missiles from an American drone hit a compound in North Waziristan yesterday, killing three militants affiliated with the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taliban, said two intelligence officers.

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