The death toll from a car bomb blast that ripped through a busy market in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday climbed to 42, authorities said.
The explosion occurred near a mosque and a police station in Peshawar’s centuries-old market place, Qissa Khawani Bazaar, which means market of story tellers in the local language. It was the third blast in a week in Peshawar, which lies about 120 miles west of Islamabad, the nation's capital city, and the fourth blast to hit the historic market in the last five years. The powerful blast, which left a deep crater in the ground, damaged the mosque and triggered a fire that destroyed several buildings and vehicles.
"The death toll is expected to rise as about 17 persons are critical," said Arshad Javed, chief executive of Lady Reading Hospital, where about 107 people who were injured from the attack are being treated, according to the Times of India.
According to local media reports, 17 members from a single family who were shopping for a wedding at the market, were killed in the attack.
“I was standing in front of the shop to buy ice cream for my ailing nephew who was with me when a deafening explosion rocked the entire area,” Muhammad Sajjad, who works in Saudi Arabia as a laborer, told AFP in the hospital. “The explosion was so intense that it threw me and my nephew a few meters, injuring both of us,” said Sajjad, who escaped with a minor head injury.
According to the bomb disposal squad, about 200 kilograms to 225 kilograms of explosives were loaded on to a white Toyota Corolla car, which was parked outside a hotel near the police station.
"It was a remote-controlled blast. The vehicle had been fully converted into a bomb," Shafqat Malik, chief of the bomb disposal squad, told the Express Tribune. “Phosphorus was mixed with the explosives which triggered the fire,” Malik said. “Artillery shells were also used in the device to inflict maximum casualties.”
This is the third attack in a week in the city after a twin suicide attack last Sunday on a nearby church killed more than 80 worshippers. Two days later, militants had bombed a vehicle transporting government servants.
Violence has been on the rise in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, despite the Pakistani government’s efforts to launch peace talks with Taliban militants to reinstate peace in the region.
The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.