Bomb explosion in Pakistani market kills 49

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Pakistani officials have said that a suspected suicide bomber exploded a car near the provincial legislative assembly that was in session in Peshawar, killing at least 49 people and wounding more than 100 others.

The blast scattered debris and destroyed vehicles in Peshawar's crowded Khyber Bazaar area, located in the center of the city.

"A suicide bomber blew himself up as the car was next to a passenger bus passing through the market," said senior police officer Shafqat Malik. He said that the bomb consisted of fifty kilograms of explosives, and contained shells and bearings to maximise damage.

One eyewitness told the Voice of America news agency he was sitting in his shop when a big explosion shook the area Friday morning, sending dust in the air and causing objects to fall from the walls. A teacher working in a nearby school also said that when he went outside after the blast, he saw bodies lying all around the area.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik indicated that such acts of terrorism might force the government to launch a much anticipated anti-[[Pakistani Taliban|Taliban] operation in South Waziristan.

He said that Friday's blast, along with a number of other deadly attacks in Peshawar, shows the government has in his words "no option" but to go on the offensive.

While the military has not publicly set a date for any major operation in the area, UN officials say some 80,000 civilians have fled the region in anticipation of a new offensive.