12 killed in Peshawar suicide blast

12 killed in Peshawar suicide blast

A man holds his baby girl who was killed in a suicide bombing, as her grandmother mourns inside a van at a local hospital in Peshawar on Sunday. AP

Abdul Malik, a ‘nazim’ or mayor who was spearheading efforts against the Taliban, his nephew, a young girl and the head of a ‘lashkar’ or tribal militia were among the dead, officials said. Malik’s son was among the injured, they said.

Police said Malik was the target of the suicide attack at the cattle market in Mattani, a suburb of Peshawar.

Malik, who survived at least five previous attempts on his life, was once considered to be close to the Taliban but later turned against the militants.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

A man named Omar, who claimed to be the Taliban spokesman in the area, told the media that Malik was targeted because he had formed a lashkar to take on the militants.
The bomber struck shortly after 9:30 am, when the market was packed with people shopping for sacrificial animals ahead of the Eid-ud-Zuha festival. The injured were taken to hospital in private cars and ambulances. The police cordoned off the market and collected the bomber’s body parts while bomb disposal experts scoured the site for clues.
Pakistani officials at Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar’s main healthcare facility, said nine of the injured were in a serious condition.

Witnesses said the bomber, a youth aged between 22 and 24 years, detonated his explosives as soon as Malik emerged from his car. They said the attacker came to the market in a bus from a nearby Taliban-dominated tribal area. The bomber’s suicide jacket was packed with 10 kg of explosives and pellets, the police said. Several shops were destroyed by the blast.

Police protection

Officials said policemen had been deputed to guard Malik and he was given a special
permit to carry weapons after he received threats from the Taliban. However, Malik left his home in the Adezai area of Mattani on Sunday morning without his police guards.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack and said the government would continue its efforts to wipe out extremists.

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