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Suicide Blast Kills at Least 88 in Pakistan

A suicide bomber set off an explosive-laden vehicle on a field during a volleyball match in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 88 people. Authorities say scores of others were wounding and children are among the victims. Friday's attack is the third major militant activity in the country within a week leaving more than 120 people dead.

The deadly suicide blast took place in a remote northwestern village near the Pakistani town of Lakki Marwat. The bomber targeted a crowd of people watching a volleyball match in a congested neighborhood.

Speaking to VOA by telephone, Provincial police chief Malik Naveed described the incident.

"A vehicle came, which was laden with about anything between 100-300 kilograms of explosives. It came and went right into the field where the driver exploded the vehicle, killed himself and a number of houses on the sides of the playground also caved in," he said.

The police chief says the village where the attack occurred was once considered a hub of Taliban insurgents. However, he says, locals with the help of authorities set up a militia force and killed or expelled the militants from their area. The police officer says Friday's bombing is a possible reaction to the anti-militancy efforts.

"These insurgents, they were not very happy about it and they were cut off because the people had risen against them. So this was one way of taking revenge from these people," he said.

The northwestern region where the attack took place is close to the Waziristan tribal region where local and Afghan Taliban as well as al-Qaida militants are said to have set up their training bases. These militants are also believed be involved in cross-border raids against U.S-led foreign forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistani security forces have been attacking insurgent bases in the South Waziristan tribal area since October. Militant attacks and suicide bombigs across the country have killed more than 1,000 people - mostly civilians - in the past year.

Friday's suicide blast happened on a day when Pakistan's commercial capital Karachi nearly shut down in a strike called by religious and political parties to protest Monday's deadly bombing in the southwestern port city. That attack targeted a religious procession of the minority Shiite Muslims and killed more than 40 people. The violence provoked angry protests across the city with demonstrators setting fires to nearly 2,000 stores that took three days to completely put out.