News / Asia

Suicide Bombing Kills 37 in NW Pakistan

Pakistani villagers search for the belongings of their family members after a blast in Matani near Peshawar, Pakistan, March 9, 2011
Pakistani villagers search for the belongings of their family members after a blast in Matani near Peshawar, Pakistan, March 9, 2011

A suicide bomber has killed at least 37 people in northwestern Pakistan, a day after a car-bomb in a central city left more than 20 people dead.

The powerful explosion occurred Wednesday near the northwestern city, Peshawar, and is said to have caused most of the deaths instantly.

Police say several hundred people were attending the funeral for the wife of an anti-Taliban leader in the Matani area when a teenage suicide bomber showed up at the gathering and detonated his device.

Pakistani villagers search for the belongings of their family members after a blast in Matani near Peshawar, Pakistan, March 9, 2011
Pakistani villagers search for the belongings of their family members after a blast in Matani near Peshawar, Pakistan, March 9, 2011

Speaking to VOA by telephone, a top police official Liaqat Ali Khan, gave details of the incident.

"When everybody was ready and they were about to start offering the prayers, this is the time when the suicide bomber walked up," Khan said. "He stood in the second row and exploded himself. And the casualty rate did go high because people were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in lines."

Hospital officials say the blast wounded dozens of people and some of them are in critical condition.

Pakistani Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they have punished those siding with the government.  

The militants have targeted pro-government militia forces, trying to counter a military effort aimed at encouraging the formation of private armies to help fight the insurgency.

Human rights groups have opposed the creation of private militia forces but authorities say the policy has helped discourage the regrouping of militants in some areas.

Wednesday's suicide blast came a day after Taliban militants set off a deadly car-bomb at near a gas filling station in the central city of Faisalabad. That attack killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 100.

Pakistan's military has launched major offensives to eliminate militant bases in the country's tribal region near the Afghan border in recent years. But there is no let up in suicide and other terrorist attacks around the country.

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