Blast kills 25 in Khyber

June 16, 2012

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Security officials, residents and members of the media gather at the site of a bomb attack in Landi Kotal, June 16, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR: A bomb ripped through a market area in a northwest Pakistan tribal town near the Afghan border on Saturday, killing at least 25 people and wounding over 50, DawnNews reported.

“The death toll is 25,” from the blast in the main bazaar of Landi Kotal in Khyber tribal district, local administration chief Mutahir Zeb told AFP, adding more than 30 were injured. Hospital officials confirmed the toll.

Zeb said there were 18 bodies at the Landi Kotal hospital while seven victims had died while being taken for treatment in Peshawar, the main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The dead included three children aged nine, 10 and 12, he added.

Motor mechanic Sajidullah Khan, who was wounded in the leg, forearms and face, told AFP: “I was checking a car when I heard a huge blast nearby. I knew nothing afterwards and came to in the hospital.”Shakoor Jan, an electrician, said he was sitting in his shop when the blast rocked the whole area. “There was fire in several shops,” he said.

The blast took place in the main bazaar of Landi Kotal in Khyber tribal region, local administration official Arshad Khan said.

Khan said the blast appeared to be aimed at members of the pro-government Zakha Khel tribe, who oppose a local warlord, Mangal Bagh.

“The bomb was planted in a pick-up truck parked near the bus stand,” Khan said.

Six shops were gutted and several damaged in the blast, which also destroyed at least eight vehicles, he added.

After the blast, a cylinder also exploded in a bakery resulting in a huge fire that reportedly led to more casualties.

Nobody claimed responsibility but militants have carried out several attacks in the area.

Pakistan is on the frontline of the US-led war on al Qaeda and Taliban militants, who Washington says use the semi-autonomous tribal areas as a global hub.

Since July 2007, a Taliban-led insurgency concentrated in the northwest has been fighting against the government.

In the last five years, attacks blamed on militants have killed more than 5,000 people according to an AFP tally.

Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to reporting.