PESHAWAR, Sept 6: At least 30 people, five of them policemen, were killed and 79 wounded after a suicide car bomb ripped through a police checkpost and nearby markets on Saturday.

The explosion was so powerful that it left the checkpost and two markets in the Zhangali area of the provincial capital in ruins. A number of the injured found themselves trapped inside buildings.

Militants based in the arms manufacturing Darra Adamkhel tribal region claimed responsibility for the bombing.

“The death toll may rise further,” city police chief Dr Suleiman told Dawn. “Many of the bodies are still lying under the rubble of a nearby market.”

The explosion, which left a 10-foot wide crater in the middle of a road, destroyed an armoured personnel carrier.

“After we received intelligence that a suicide car bomber would target the NWFP assembly on Saturday, we declared the entire area as red zone to pre-empt the entry of subversive elements,” provincial police chief Malik Muhammad Naveed told Dawn.

Dr Suleiman concurred with his boss. “Such a massive bomb couldn’t have been meant for a police checkpost. It was destined for some other place, probably a cantonment area.”

Quoting witnesses, he said that the suicide bomber was in his 20s, sported a small beard and was wearing a white cap. He crashed his explosives-laden dark-colour double-cabin pickup truck into the checkpost upon being flagged to stop.

The explosives, weighing roughly between 35 and 40kgs, were equal in intensity to the one used in the bombing of FIA building in Lahore on March 11, police said.

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