LANDI KOTAL: A powerful bomb planted in a pick-up exploded at a petrol station in Jamrud bazaar in Khyber Agency, killing over 30 people, four of them Khasadar personnel, and injuring 78 others on Tuesday.
The bomb was triggered by remote control.
(The AFP news agency, quoting senior administration official Shakeel Khan Umarzai, put the death toll at 35 and the number of injured at 69, 11 of them critically).
Officials said the pick-up was removed by the Khasadar personnel from near a vegetable market and parked at the fuel station, adjacent to a taxi stand.
About an hour later, the pick-up exploded.
"The bomb was possibly detonated with a remote control device which left 24 people dead on the spot," a security official said.
The blast destroyed several kiosks, six vehicles and the filling station.
Khyber Agency administrator Mutahir Zeb said it appeared that Zakhakhel tribe which had formed a Lashkar against Taliban militants in the area was the target. He said the bombing was similar to earlier attacks carried out by Taliban.
Mr Zeb said the incident could be a reaction to a mili-tary operation under way in Khyber Agency, particularly in Bara. But, he said the government was determined to combat terrorists and defeat them.
A Taliban spokesman who identified himself as Mohammad told this correspondent by phone from an unspecified location that his organisation had not carried out the attack.
Mir Wais, a fish-seller at Jamrud bazaar, said he had rushed to the site after the blast and saw human flesh, blood and mutilated bodies scattered all around.
According to Rafiullah, a fruit vendor, a Khasadar removed the pick-up from the vegetable market to the nearby petrol station.
"An hour later we heard a huge explosion and smoke and dust engulfed the entire bazaar," he said, adding that because of dust and smoke it was difficult for a while to spot the dead and the injured.
Hospital sources in Jamrud said they had received 24 bodies and 29 injured soon after the blast.
`Most of the injured were discharged after first aid, said Dr Khan Muhammad.
Those injured critically were taken to hospitals in Peshawar, but six of them died.
Ambulance drivers working for Jamrud hospital accused the Peshawar police of stop-ping their vehicles which delayed shifting of the critically injured to hospital.
The Khyber political agent announced compensation of Rs100,000 for the heir of each deceased and Rs25,000 for each of the injured.
The Jamrud bazaar was closed after the explosion.
Most of the dead belonged to Kukikhel and Zakhakhel tribes. They were buried in their ancestral graveyards.
Agencies add: `The total number of deaths in the blast is 35 while 69 people were wounded,` a senior administration official, Shakeel Khan Umarzai, told AFP, adding 11 were in critical condition.
Another top official in Khyber, Mutahir Zeb, said the target of the attack was not immediately clear.
"According to initial information, it was a remote-control device planted in a passenger pick-up van," he said.
One of the injured, 26-yearold Zulfiqar Khan, a van driver with a broken left shoulder, said he had been washing his car when the explosion hit.
"I fell at least three metres away from my car because of the impact of the blast," he said.
"As I fell on the ground with severe pain in my left shoulder, pieces of human flesh hit my body."
Another man, Ameenullah, 38, being treated at a hospital for head wounds and three broken fingers, said: "I was driving my car when the powerful blast rocked the area which over-turned my car. When I regained consciousness, I found myself on the hospital bed," he said.
Shopkeeper Sharif Gul said the blast ignited a huge fire.
"People were burning," he said at a hospital in Peshawar.
There was nothing to put out the fire.
The market bombing was the first major Taliban attack in the country since September 15 when a suicide bomber killed 46 people, targeting anti-Taliban militia at a funeral in Lower Dir district.