Huge blast in Pakistan vegetable market threatens talks with Taliban

Deadliest attack in Islamabad in several years follows weeks of preliminary talks with the Pakistani Taliban

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 11:00pm


A bomb tore through a bustling fruit and vegetable market in Islamabad yesterday, killing at least 20 people, police said, in the latest violence to hit government peace talks with the Taliban.

The 8am blast took place at the wholesale market close to the Pakistani capital's twin city, Rawalpindi, as hundreds of grocers and sellers gathered to trade.

The bombing, the deadliest to hit Islamabad since a huge truck bomb at the Marriott hotel in 2008, left a 1.5-metre diameter crater at the site, which was littered with body parts .

The attack comes as the government tries to negotiate an end to the Pakistani Taliban's campaign of violence.

Talks began between government and Taliban in February, but more than 160 people have been killed in attacks since the start of the process, leading many to question its worth.

Jameel Hashmi, a senior Islamabad police official, said the blast had killed at least 20 people and wounded 69.

"I saw body parts flying in the air," said one of the fruit traders, Afzal Khan. "People were dying. People were crying. People were running."

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the group had nothing to do with the attack and urged the government to find those responsible.

"It was a planted bomb, senior local administration official Nauman Yousuf said.

A bomb disposal official said on condition of anonymity that the device hidden in a fruit box weighed five to six kilograms and was packed with nuts and bolts to cause maximum carnage.

Additional reporting by Associated Press