x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pakistan car bomb kills 17 people in market

A car bomb has exploded in a crowded market in Pakistan's north-west tribal region near the Afghan border, killing 17 people and wounding more than 40 others.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan // A car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Pakistan's north-west tribal region near the Afghan border yesterday, killing 17 people and wounding more than 40 others.

The bomb went off next to the women's waiting area of a bus stop, which is located near the office of one of the top political officials in the Khyber tribal area, said Hidayat Khan, a government official.

The 17 dead included five boys and two women, said Abdul Qudoos, a doctor at a hospital in Jamrud town, where the attack occurred. At least 44 people were wounded.

The explosives were packed in a small, white car that was parked in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, said Shireen Afridi, who was nearby buying a phone card when the bomb exploded.

"There was fire in which children burned, women burned, poor Afghan people burned, and it caused a lot of destruction," said Mr Afridi. "People's heads were lying in the drain."

Television footage showed several cars and shops in the market that were badly damaged. Residents threw buckets of water on burning vehicles as rescue workers transported the wounded to the hospital.

The market was located close to the office of the assistant political agent for Khyber, said Mr Khan, who works in the office. Initial reports wrongly indicated the women's waiting area was for the political office, not the bus stop.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Khyber is home to various Islamist militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, which have waged a bloody insurgency against the government for the past few years.

The army has carried out offensives against the Taliban in most parts of the tribal region, including Khyber, but militants continue to carry out regular attacks in the country.

Militants yesterday killed a provincial government spokesman in the south-west Pakistan in an apparent sectarian attack, and then shot to death two nearby policemen, police said.

The attackers shot dead Khadim Hussain Noori in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, police said. Noori was the provincial spokesman and a Shiite.

Baluchistan has experienced a spike in sectarian killings in the past year as Sunnis have targeted Shiites, who they consider heretics.

The province is also the scene of a decades-long insurgency by Baluch nationalists who demand greater autonomy and a larger share of the province's natural resources.