x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Bombs explode in Pakistan's Peshawar

Two bombs explode in a crowded market area in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.

PESHAWAR // Two bombs exploded today in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar inflicting some casualties, police and a witness said. The blasts came a day after a suicide gun and bomb attack in the city of Lahore killed 24 people and wounded nearly 300. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Lahore bomb, saying it was a revenge for an army offensive in the Swat region. "They were two bomb blasts. There are casualties but I don't know the numbers. A building has caught fire," senior police officer Mohammad Anis told reporters.

The bombs went off in a crowded market area of Peshawar's old city. "I can see about 15 wounded people lying on the ground. People are running out of their shops," city resident Tahir Ali Shah said. Militant violence in nuclear-armed Pakistan has surged since mid-2007, with numerous attacks on the security forces, as well as on government and Western targets. The violence and a perception the government was being distracted by political squabbling and failing to act to stop the Taliban had alarmed the United States and other Western allies.

But the army moved against the Taliban in their Swat valley stronghold late last month after the militants had seized a district only 100 kilometres from the capital and a peace pact collapsed. A militant commander loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud said earlier today the Lahore attack was to avenge the offensive in Swat. "We have achieved our target. We were looking for this target for a long time. It was a reaction to the Swat operation," said the commander, Hakimullah Mehsud.

The government also said the attack in a high-security area in Lahore where a police headquarters, emergency services building and a military intelligence office are located, was revenge for the Swat offensive. * Reuters