PESHAWAR: Nine people were killed and 50 others injured when a powerful bomb blast ripped through a local hotel frequented mostly by Shias in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Tuesday night, said officials.
The incident took place at Pak Hotel near Imambargah Alamdar in Kucha Risaldar, a Shia dominated neighbourhood of Peshawar.
Police officer Rizwan Khan said that the hotel is frequented mostly by Shias who visit Imambargah Alamdar next door. Most of the dead and wounded were Shias, he added.
The blast came as talks between government negotiators and representatives from the Pakistani Taliban designed to end years of fighting in the northwest were delayed.
Confirming the death toll, Superintendent Police (SP) City Muhammad Faisal Mukhtar said it was a suicide attack.
Provincial Health Minister Shaukat Yousufzai earlier told media representatives that eight people were killed and 42 others injured in the suicide bombing. "Six of the dead have been identified," he said.
Shafqat Malik, an officer of Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) said that about six kilos of explosives were used in the blast. He said hands and legs of the suicide bomber have been recovered from the site which were sent for laboratory and DNA tests. He said other forensic evidences have also been collected.
Eyewitness Musadiq Ali told Dawn.com, “I was on the first floor when a huge blast occurred and I fell on the ground.” He said that he rushed to the spot and witnessed scores of people in the “pool of blood.”
Musharraf Hussain from Parachinar, who was on the spot as well, said the blast destroyed three shops and the eating kiosks in front of the Pak Hotel and Imambargah Alamdar inside Qissakhwani Bazaar.
We shifted the injured and dead to the hospital on our own as no rescue worker reached the spot soon after the blast.
Injured in reportedly critical condition were taken to Lady Reading Hospital where an emergency was imposed.
Jamil Shah, media coordinator at LRH confirmed that nine dead bodies and 50 injured have been brought in the hospital. Women and children were among the injured, he said.
Earlier today, Haji Sardar Ali, a prominent Shia leader was shot dead in the city, sparking a protest outside the LRH where his body was taken.