At least 75 dead following suicide bombing in Pakistan; scores more wounded

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

A suicide bomber at a volleyball game in northwestern Pakistan detonated a vehicle full of explosives Friday, killing at least 75 people and injuring scores more. Some reports placed the number of dead as high as 88.

The explosion occurred in the town of Lakki Marwat in the North West Frontier Province, located nearby to the South and North Waziristan provinces, an area where Pakistani Taliban members are known to be active.

Reportedly, the attacker drove his car onto a volleyball field, where a game, being watched by many people, was being played.

"The locality has been a hub of militants. Locals set up a militia and expelled the militants from this area. This attack seems to be reaction to their expulsion," said, Ayub Khan, a local police chief, to media. According to him, the attacker's vehicle contained 250 kilograms of highly intensive explosive material.

Buildings in the vicinity of the field, including a mosque were collapsed or damaged by the force of the blast. "[W]e fear that some ten or so people might have been trapped in the rubble", Khan said.

Another security official, Khabib Khan, said that there were around three hundred people attending at the volleyball competition when the explosion happened. "We had security there. We had it for the meeting, and for the tournament," he said to the Associated Press news agency over the telephone.

Malik Naveed, the provincial police chief, said to Voice of America that the attack may have been a retaliatory move against the residents of the town. According to him, the village where the attack occurred was once considered a hub of Taliban fighters; however, he says, locals, with the help of authorities set up a militia force and either killed or expelled them from their area.

"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," Naveed said.

This incident is the deadliest attack in Pakistan since October 28 of last year, when 112 people were killed by a car bomb in the city of Peshawar.