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Page last updated at 05:22 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Market bombs 'kill dozens' in Pakistan's Lahore

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Local television shows the fire still burning and other buildings smoking

The death toll in two bomb blasts at a busy market in the centre of Pakistan's second largest city, Lahore, has risen to 48, police and medics say.

The attack, which injured over 100 people, sparked a huge blaze at the city's Moon Market at 2045 (1545 GMT).

The toll has risen with the death of 12 more people overnight, police said.

The blasts came just hours after a suicide bomber on a rickshaw killed at least 10 people in Peshawar when he blew himself up near the courthouse.

Market blaze

One official said the blasts in Lahore happened in quick succession and that dozens were injured when the blast struck the market, crammed with shoppers and traders.

Map

"The fire engulfed a building and shops. There were two blasts with an interval of about 30 seconds," senior city police official Shafiq Ahmad told French news agency AFP.

"One was in front of a bank and one was in front of a police station."

The two buildings targeted were about 30m apart - one on the edge of the market and the other at its centre.

Many of the victims were women and children, the police said.

"There was a blast. Then there was another. Nobody knew what was happening. Everybody was running. There was fire everywhere," eyewitness Mohammad Nauman told the Associated Press news agency.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool, in Islamabad, says eyewitnesses say that much of the market remains inaccessible.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the bombs were apparently remote-controlled devices, AP reports.

More than 400 people have been killed during a string of attacks mounted by Islamist militants in recent weeks, as an army offensive targeting the Taliban stronghold in the country's north-west continues.

Close to the country's border with India, Lahore has been hit several times by militants over the past year.

Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber detonated about 6kg (13lb) of explosives outside a courthouse in the north-western city of Peshawar.

The attack killed 10 people - including a policeman - and wounded 44 others.

Hundreds of people have been killed in attacks across Pakistan since the army sent its troops to fight the Taliban in the tribal region of South Waziristan in the autumn.



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