ISLAMABAD — An attack on a movie theater Tuesday in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 11 people and wounded many others. There are no immediate claims of responsibility. The violence comes as the government initiated peace talks with Islamist militants blamed for deadly attacks in the country.
Witnesses and police in the city of Peshawar said that more than 100 people were watching a local Pashto-language movie when explosions rocked the main hall of the Shama cinema.
Rescue workers and witnesses said that most of the deaths occurred instantly. Some of the wounded were in critical condition. City police chief Ijaz Khan gave details of the violence.
He told reporters that unknown assailants lobbed three Chinese-made hand grenades, one after the other into different parts of the packed hall.
The theater where Tuesday’s attack occurred is known for showing pornographic films. This was the second attack in Peshawar within two weeks in which a cinema was targeted. The city is the capital of restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and close to the country’s volatile tribal regions where the Pakistani Taliban have bases.
The militants are waging a bloody insurgency in the country but the latest violence comes as Pakistan's government began a peace process with the Taliban in a bid to end the violence that has killed thousands of people in recent years.
Hours before the blasts, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif addressed a meeting in Islamabad and warned the militants against actions that could undermine the reconciliation process.
“A reconciliation process has started in Pakistan [but] the one very fundamental prerequisite for that is that the both sides should be committed and sincere to solve the problem through negotiations. That process is under way and we all pray that this is successful and in our FATA (federally administered tribal areas) area, in our border areas we have peace and tranquility,” he said.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban in a statement has denied his group’s involvement in Tuesday’s blasts.