LAKKI MARWAT, Jan 1 A suicide bomber blew up an explosives-laden double-cabin pickup in the middle of a crowd gathered for a volleyball game, killing 88 people and injuring 37 in Shah Hassan Khel area on Friday.

It was the highest death toll from a militant strike since a massive car bomb on Oct 28 killed 125 people in a crowded market popular with women in Peshawar.

According to agency reports, a man detonated his vehicle as sports fans gathered in a field to watch two local teams face off at volleyball in Lakki Marwat which borders South Waziristan.

“The villagers were watching the match between the two teams when the bomber rashly drove his pick-up into them and blew it up,” district police chief Mohammad Ayub Khan said.

“We have removed all bodies and wounded from the rubble and now the total death toll is 75 while 42 people were wounded.”

Ramzan Bittani, a 33-year-old driver, said that he had left the match to take a call.

“As I was listening, I saw a huge blue and white spark followed by an ear-piercing blast. When I was able to figure out what had happened, I saw bodies and smoke all around. My hand was fractured,” he said. The NWFP government announced Rs300,000 compensation for the heir of each deceased and Rs100,000 for each of the injured.—Agencies

Our Correspondent Mursaleen Marwat adds A team of doctors was dispatched from the adjacent Bannu district because of meagre health facilities in Lakki Marwat and health professionals were finding it difficult to treat the injured.

Local people said that the terrorist rammed his explosives-laden pickup into a wall near the volley ball court. The powerful explosion destroyed several houses and shops in the locality and according to witnesses a few houses also caught fire.

A portion of a mosque where a meeting of a local peace committee was in progress also caved in, said Gul Janan, a member of the committee.

Doctors said that 10 critically injured people were moved to other hospitals in the region.

A local elder said militant groups in North Waziristan had threatened members of the peace committee.

Local people have set up peace committees in the area to prevent insurgent activities in the area.

“We have been receiving threats from militant groups in the North Waziristan,” said Mushtaq Marwat. Local people shifted the injured in cars and wagons to the main hospital. Witnesses said that the playground was littered with human flesh and blood and several bodies were charred and mutilated beyond recognition.

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