Saturday, December 06, 2008
12:50 Mecca time, 09:50 GMT
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA
Peshawar blast death toll rises
The bodies of more victims were uncovered on Saturday from the wreckage of the
The death toll from a car-bomb attack on a crowded market in northwest Pakistan
has risen to 27.
Police found six more bodies among the wreckage on Saturday, a day after the
blast which went off close to a market in Peshawar called Qissakahani bazaar.
About 100 people were wounded when the car bomb went off on Friday, wrecking a
Shia mosque, a hotel and setting a string of vehicles and shops ablaze,
Mohammed Khan, a local police official, said.
A 12-year-old boy was among the victims of the explosion, which hit the city as
crowds of people were out shopping in the run-up to the Muslim festival of Eid
"We found six bodies buried under the debris of two destroyed hotels and one
adjoining house. Among the dead was a 12-year-old boy and a woman," Noor
Mohammad, another local police official, said.
"The powerful blast brought down several buildings and destroyed over 50
Television footage showed survivors frantically carrying bloodied victims
through the rubble to private cars and ambulances as firefighters sought to
douse the flames.
Some witnesses said the explosion ripped open a natural gas pipeline, creating
a blaze that spread to nearby buildings and shops.
"The fire broke out again Saturday morning and firefighters were called in to
put it down," said Mohammad Khalil, whose shop was gutted by the flames.
Neither the motive nor the culprits behind the blast were clear, but Haider
Khan Hoti, the head of the NWFP government, said it was possible that "external
forces" could be to blame.
Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Peshawar, said that the
phrase could refer to Indian involvement.
"The reason for that is that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have a major fight on
their hands in Afghanistan and therefore more and more people here are inclined
to believe that what is happening on the Pakistan side has a foreign dimension
to it," he said.
Some witnesses said the explosion ripped open a natural gas pipeline starting a
"There is also a considerable anger in this city - as well as the country -
after allegations were hurled at Pakistan for what happened in Mumbai."
The Peshawar bombing was the second blast in a Shia area in the northwest of
the country on Friday.
Further adding to concerns about "external forces", a suspected US missile
attack reportedly killed three people in a stronghold of the Taliban and
al-Qaida near the border with Afghanistan.
There have been more than 30 suspected US missile attacks inside Pakistani
territory since August
In another development, Pakistan's Dawn daily reported on Saturday that the
country's security forces had been put on high alert after a hoax caller
pretending to be India's foreign minister contacted Asif Ali Zardari, the
Phone call hoax
The incident occurred on November 28, two days after the co-ordinated attacks
on Mumbai, the Indian financial capital.
The caller ignored Zardari's conciliatory language and directly threatened to
take military action if Pakistan failed to act immediately against the supposed
perpetrators of the slaughter in Mumbai.
Throughout the next 24 hours Pakistan's air force was put on "highest alert" as
the military watched anxiously for any sign of Indian aggression, the report
"It's true," a diplomat with knowledge of the exchanges told the Reuters news
agency, when asked whether the newspaper report was correct.
Pakistani officials said the caller ID was a Delhi number, and some believe the
call was made from India's external affair's ministry.
But Indian officials have denied this to US counterparts and maintained that
the number could have been manipulated, Dawn reported.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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