Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Pakistan volleyball bomb toll climbs to more than 90

Medics treat a man injured in the bomb at a local hospital in Bannu, Pakistan, on 1 January 2010
Dozens of people were injured in Friday's attack

The toll from a suicide attack on a volleyball match in north-west Pakistan has continued to rise, as rescuers searched for bodies at the scene.

Ninety-three people are confirmed dead after the bombing in Lakki Marwat, and daylight has exposed the true horror, says a BBC correspondent.

Police say old people and children were watching the game when the bomber drove his vehicle onto the field.

It was the deadliest attack since a Peshawar bombing in October killed 120.

More than 600 people have died in militant attacks in Pakistan since the beginning of October, most of them believed to be in reprisal for the Pakistan army's new campaign against the Taliban.

Unusual target

Aleem Maqbool
By Aleem Maqbool, BBC News, Islamabad

The Pakistani army's operation in South Waziristan, which began in October, was billed as the turning point in the country's fight against the Taliban.

The military says things have gone extremely well, and that it now controls most of that former Taliban stronghold.

But the period since the offensive started has coincided with a massive upsurge in militant attacks that has now claimed the lives of over 600 people right across the country.

The government says the hitting of soft civilian targets, as the one in Lakki Marwat, is proof that the militants are getting desperate, and know the authorities have the upper hand. Most Pakistanis will be unconvinced of that.

An attack on a sporting event is unusual, and no group has admitted the blast, but analysts say that is not uncommon when large numbers of civilians are killed.

Police say it may have been retaliation for attempts by Lakki Marwat residents to get rid of militants.

"Locals set up a militia and expelled the militants from this area. This attack seems to be a reaction to their expulsion," district police chief Ayub Khan told AFP news agency.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool reports from Islamabad that among those killed are believed to be members of a local peace committee who have been campaigning for an end to the violence.

Mushtaq Marwat, a member of the group, told Pakistan's Geo TV that the attack occurred as the committee was meeting in a nearby mosque.

Body parts remained strewn across the field on Saturday morning and emergency services were still searching the rubble of surrounding buildings destroyed in the attack.

On Friday evening, one witness described people using vehicle headlights to search for victims in the dark.

There was a huge blast, we went out and saw bodies and injured people everywhere
Khalid Israr
Regional official

One man who was injured in the explosion said: "All the people had gathered together watching [the game], when suddenly a [Mitsubishi] Pajero came in the middle of the field and blew up."

"Suddenly there was a huge blast. We went out and saw bodies and injured people everywhere," he said.

The military have been deployed to help local authorities with the clear-up operation.

Lakki Marwat is near North and South Waziristan, which form a lethal militant belt from where insurgents have launched attacks across north-west Pakistan, as well as into parts of eastern Afghanistan.

Our correspondent says it had been feared that while the army was congratulating itself on its campaign, militants had simply escaped to neighbouring areas such as the one where Friday's attack happened.

On Saturday, security was beefed up as a precaution for a boxing tournament in Karachi, featuring teams from India and China.

A bombing that left at least 43 people dead at a Shia Muslim march in the city last Monday has been claimed by the Taliban.

A general strike was held in Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital, on Friday in protest at the attack, and the riots that followed.

Map showing recent attacks in Pakistan
Lakki Marwat, 1 January: More than 90 killed in bombing at volleyball pitch
Karachi, 28 December: At least 43 killed in attack on Shia Muslim march
Dera Ghazi Khan, 15 December: At least 27 killed in bomb attack on market
Multan, 8 December: Intelligence agency office attacked - at least 12 killed
Peshawar: Many recent attacks - 28 October market 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

Are you in the area? Have you been affected by this story? Please send us your comments using the form below.

In most cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name and location unless you state otherwise in the box below.


Your E-mail address

Town & Country

Phone number (optional):


The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Print Sponsor

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