Page last updated at 23:56 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pakistan market blast 'kills at least 27'


Aftermath of the attack in Dera Ghazi Khan

At least 27 people have been killed in a bomb attack in a market in central Pakistan, officials say.

More than 50 others were wounded in the blast in Dera Ghazi Khan, which badly damaged a number of buildings.

TV footage showed rescuers struggling to reach people trapped in debris. Officials say the target may have been a provincial official, who was unhurt.

Pakistan has recently been hit by a string of attacks that have left hundreds of people dead or injured.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says Dera Ghazi Khan lies close to the region where Pakistan's army is carrying out an offensive against the Taliban.

The blast left a huge crater in the Dera Ghazi Khan market
The market has collapsed
Raza Khan

The government has said that that operation has gone well but many Pakistanis fear the militants have simply escaped to neighbouring towns and cities like Dera Ghazi Khan, where they will continue to cause chaos.

Police believe Tuesday's blast was caused by a suicide car bomb.

An emergency was declared at all local hospitals.

"The whole market has collapsed," Raza Khan, a local resident, told the Associated Press news agency. "There is smoke and people running here and there."

Police chief Mubarak Ali said the blast had ripped through the market, which he said was the busiest shopping area in the town.

"Several shops were destroyed and a mosque was also badly damaged," he said.

Heavy machinery, including cranes and bulldozers, were being used to move large chunks of concrete from the scene of the blast, amid fears that people may be trapped underneath.

Town commissioner Hassan Iqbal later told the AFP news agency the rescue work was over and all debris had been removed.

"It was a terrorist activity, similar to those being carried out in other parts of the country," said Mr Iqbal.

He said body parts from the suspected bomber had been recovered from the scene.

'Direct attack'

District health officer Dr Pervez Haider Altaf told AFP that people were frantically searching for survivors.

"The hospital in the town has been crowded by people looking for their relatives," he said.

Dera Ghazi Khan deputy police inspector Gen Mubarak Ali Athar, visiting the site, said it may have been a suicide attack.

The house of a senior provincial government adviser, Zulfiqar Khosa, was damaged in the blast but he was not among the injured, officials said.

Our correspondent says Mr Khosa recently presided over a meeting of religious leaders that had declared suicide-bombing un-Islamic.

Mr Khosa's son, Dost Mohammad Khosa, told AP the bombing was "a direct attack on us" and that two of his cousins were injured.

Map showing area of most recent attacks in pakistan
Dera Ghazi Khan, 15 December: At least 22 killed in bomb attack on market
Multan, 8 December: Intelligence agency office attacked - at least 12 killed
Peshawar: Many recent attacks - 28 October bombing killed about 120
Lahore: Targeted several times - market bombs killed 50 on 7 December
Rawalpindi: Several recent attacks, including one at a mosque on 4 December in which 35 died
Islamabad: Security tightened after series of attacks - 20 October bombing killed nine at International Islamic University
Charsadda, 10 November: Car bomb kills 34 and wounds 100

Print Sponsor

IOL Market bombing kills 27 people - 12 hrs ago
Philippine Daily Inquirer Suicide car bombing kills 27 in Pakistan market - 13 hrs ago
France24 PAKISTAN: Deadly suicide car bomb blast hits busy market town - 20 hrs ago
Yahoo! News Pakistan market bombing kills 27: official (AFP) - 21 hrs ago
ITN Bomb blast in Pakistani market town - 23 hrs ago

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific