A street is ablaze in the aftermath of the blast in Peshawar. AFP photo.
A Taliban car bomb killed 89 Pakistanis and wounded hundreds more at a bazaar in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The attack is the latest in the Taliban’s terror campaign and took place hours after the US Secretary of State touched down for a diplomatic visit in Islamabad.
The blast took place at the crowded Meena Bazaar, sowing panic and destruction. The nearby Umme Habiba mosque was leveled and the facades of buildings crumbled from the blast’s shock wave.
“It was a car bomb,” bomb disposal official Shafqat Malik told AFP. “Some people are still trapped in a building. We are trying to rescue them.”
So far, 89 people have been reported killed and 213 have been wounded, but the numbers are expected to rise with victims still trapped in the rubble, and dozens of wounded are reported to be in critical condition.
The attack is the latest in a string of suicide strikes and military assaults by the Taliban against Pakistan’s security forces, the government, and civilians. The military is on the offensive in South Waziristan, and has claimed to have killed more than 250 Taliban fighters since the operation began on Oct. 15. The Taliban have announced they are at war with the state so long as South Waziristan remains under military siege.
Peshawar has suffered four major attacks during the Taliban offensive, which began on Oct. 5, one day after Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud announced he would avenge the death of his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, and insisted that the military halt attacks in the tribal agencies. There have been 16 major attacks throughout Pakistan in 18 days (see list below).
Taliban targets the UN in Afghanistan
Across the border in Afghanistan, the Taliban killed six UN staff members in an armed assault on a guest house in the capital of Kabul. Several Taliban fighters wearing police uniforms and suicide bombs stormed the compound. Three of the bombers detonated their vests.
Afghan security forces cleared the compound and discovered six foreign UN workers were killed in the attack.
The Taliban took credit for the attack and said it was part of a campaign to disrupt the run-off presidential election scheduled for Nov. 7.
“We have said that we would attack anyone engaged in the process and today’s attack is just a start,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.
The Haqqani Network, an al Qaeda ally based in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, has conducted similar attacks in Kabul and the East.
Major attacks in Pakistan since Oct. 5:
Oct. 28, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 89 Pakistanis and wounded hundreds more in an attack on a bazaar in Peshawar.
Oct. 27, 2009: A brigadier general who served as the director of defense services guards at the Army General Headquarters escaped an assassination attempt in Islamabad.
Oct. 23, 2009: The Taliban detonated an anti-tank mine and hit a bus transporting a wedding party in Mohmand. The explosion killed 15 of the passengers and wounded six more.
Oct. 23, 2009: The Taliban detonated a car bomb outside a popular restaurant in the residential Hayatabad area in Peshawar. The attack wounded 13 civilians; nine are said to be in critical condition.
Oct. 23, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people during an attack at a security checkpoint near the Kamra Air Weapon Complex in the district of Attock in Punjab province.
Oct. 21, 2009: The Taliban assassinated a brigadier general and his driver during an ambush in Islamabad.
Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, killing five.
Oct. 16, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers, including a female, attacked a police station and a building housing an intelligence service in Peshawar, killing 11.
Oct. 15, 2009: Terrorist assault teams attacked the Federal Investigation Agency building, the Manawan police training centre, and the Elite Force Headquarters in Lahore. Twenty-six people, including nine terrorists and 12 policemen, were killed.
Oct. 15, 2009: A suicide bomber rammed a car into a police station in Kohat, killing 11 people, including policemen and children.
Oct. 12, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives as a military convoy passed through a checkpoint in a market in Alpuri in Shangla. Forty-one people, including six security personnel, were killed in the attack.
Oct. 10, 2009: An assault team attacked the Army General Headquarters and took 42 security personnel captive. Eleven soldiers were killed, including a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel, along with nine members of the assault team; and 39 hostages were freed.
Oct. 9, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives in a bazaar in Peshawar, killing 49 civilians.
Oct. 5, 2009: A suicide bomber entered the World Food Program office in Islamabad and detonated his vest, killing five UN workers, including an Iraqi.