Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Pakistani officials have said that at least 100 people were killed and over 200 injured after a car bomb exploded in a marketplace in the city of Peshawar on Wednesday. The attack was the deadliest in the country in this year.
Initially, large fires were reported to be burning around the marketplace, which was crowded with people. The flames spread easily because there were many stores in the area selling flammable fabrics. Police said the blast was heard throughout most of the city, and the explosion reportedly left a hole in the ground up to ten feet wide.
The Associated Press reported that many of the victims are women.
“There was a huge blast. There was smoke and dust everywhere. I saw people dying and screaming on the road,” said an eyewitness, Mohammad Siddique, to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Several buildings collapsed as a result of the detonation, and rescue workers searched through the rubble looking for survivors beneath the debris.
Muzamil Hussain, a member of local medical staff, described his experiences to the Associated Press: “There were a lot of wounded people. We tried to help them but there were no ambulances so we took the victims on rickshaws and other vehicles. There were no police. The police and government didn’t help us, the police even opened fire on us.”
“Bodies are scattered and badly burned because of the fire caused by the explosion. The explosion took place in a very crowded market,” Mohammed Naeem, a spokesman for a local ambulance service, said.
Some people expressed anger that the bombings managed to be carried out in broad daylight in a crowded area. “What kind of security alert is this? It was an explosives-packed car. Look at the mosque, it ceases to exist anymore. For God’s sake, do something,” said a local middle-aged shopkeeper, as quoted by the CNN news agency.
A state of emergency at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, where many of the wounded people were hospitalised, was called soon after the explosion. Hospital officials appealed to the public and to other medical centres for blood donations.
The bomb attack happened just hours after Hillary Clinton, the United States Secretary of State, flew to the nation to discuss peace with Pakistan’s military commanders and political figures. Clinton will be in Islamabad for three days.
Clinton condemned the attack. “These attacks on innocent people are cowardly. They are not courageous. If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process,” she said.
The bombing also comes just days after Pakistani military forces captured the town of Kotkai, the hometown of Taliban Chief Hakimullah Mehsud, and one of his top officers, Qari Hussain.