Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Peshawar blast search continues

A grief-stricken woman visits the site of Wednesday's bombing in Peshawar a day later looking for her missing son
It's a painful wait for the families of those still missing

Rescuers are still searching for missing people days after a massive blast ripped through a busy market in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Officials say the death toll from the car bomb now stands at 118.

Meanwhile, the city's traders have continued their strike to protest against the "government's failure to protect ordinary citizens".

Security remains tight across Pakistani cities as the army operation continues in the South Waziristan region.

In Punjab and Sindh provinces, schools and colleges have stepped up security and many remain shut after the attack on the international Islamic university in Islamabad last week.

'Painful wait'

One of men involved in the search operation said he thought that about 10 more corpses remain buried in the wreckage of the shops and the mosque which collapsed following the blast and the subsequent fire, the BBC's Mark Dummett reports from Islamabad.

The government and army rescue teams are using hydraulic cutters, cranes and bulldozers to get to them.

The site of the explosion
Dozens of people were injured by the explosion

It has been a terribly painful wait for the families of the missing, our correspondent says.

A doctor at the hospital which has been treating the victims said that they were still trying to identify 15 badly mangled corpses.

Meanwhile, shops and markets across Peshawar have remained shut for the second day on Friday in response to a three-day strike called by the traders.

There is very little traffic on the road and correspondents say in many ways, Peshawar is starting to feel like a city under siege.

The blast tore through Peshawar's Peepal Mandi market area, destroying several buildings, including a mosque.

Many of the dead were women and children.

The government blamed the attack on Pakistani Taliban, but the head of the group denied they carried it out.

Hakimullah Mehsud said the attack was orchestrated by the Americans and Pakistani intelligence agencies "to malign the name of the Taliban".

Bombings have killed hundreds of people in recent weeks in Pakistan, as the army carries out an operation against Taliban militants in South Waziristan, but the scale of Wednesday's attack in Peshawar was unprecedented.

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