Bomb blast kills dozens at busy Pakistan market

At least 37 people are killed in Peshawar as violence escalates, undermining peace talks with Taliban

Pakistani run away from the site of a blast shortly after a car explosion in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.
AP Photo

Pakistani police say a bomb blast killed at least 37 people Sunday at the busy Kissa Khwani market in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where a deadly church bombing occurred last week.

A senior official at Lady Reading Hospital, Dr Arshad Javaid, confirmed the toll and said at least 103 people were injured. A hospital spokesman said there were six children and two women among the dead.

Police officer Zahid Khan said the explosion appeared to have been a bomb planted in a parked car and detonated by remote control.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Authorities said violence has been on the rise in Pakistan in recent months, undermining Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's efforts to tame the insurgency by launching peace talks with the Taliban. The Taliban have repeatedly rejected Pakistan's constitution and have called for the full implementation of Islamic law. 

Sharif, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, strongly condemned the blast.

"Those involved in the killing of innocent people are devoid of humanity and all religions," he said in comments released by his office.

Peshawar is the gateway of the semi-autonomous tribal belt that U.S. officials consider a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and other insurgents fighting both in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan. The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan faction has led a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state in recent years, carrying out hundreds of attacks on security forces and government targets.

Sunday’s blast caused major destruction, toppling a two-story building. At least 50 shops were either damaged or completely destroyed.

Human limbs, blood, broken glass, blood-soaked clothes and sandals littered the road. Rescuers pulled several bodies from a passenger minivan that was passing the explosives-laden vehicle when it exploded.

"I was standing in front of a shop to buy ice cream for my ailing nephew who was with me when a deafening explosion rocked the entire area," Muhammad Sajjad, 26, who works in Saudi Arabia as a laborer, told Agence France-Presse.

Weeping relatives of the dead and injured gathered at Lady Reading Hospital as rescuers brought in bodies or small bundles of human remains.

The Sunday blast also comes two days after another bombing in Peshawar killed at least 17 people.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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