Car bomb kills 91 in Pakistani city of Peshawar
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A car bomb tore through a busy market in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 91 people as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the country and pledged American support for its campaign against Islamist militants.
More than 200 people were wounded in the blast in the main northwestern city of Peshawar, the deadliest in a surge of attacks this month. The government blamed militants seeking to avenge an army offensive launched this month against al-Qaida and Taliban in their stronghold close to the Afghan border.
The bomb destroyed much of a market selling bangles, dresses and toys that was popular with women and children.
It collapsed buildings, including a mosque, and set shops on fire in an old part of the city crisscrossed with narrow alleys and clogged with stalls. Wounded people sat amid burning debris and body parts as a huge plume of gray smoke rose above the city.
Crying for help, men grabbed at the wreckage, trying to pull out survivors trapped beneath. One two-story building collapsed as firefighters doused it with water, triggering more panic.
“There was a deafening sound and I was like a blind man for a few minutes,” said Mohammad Usman, who was wounded in the shoulder. “I heard women and children crying and started to help others. There was the smell of human flesh in the air.”
Clinton, on her first visit to Pakistan as secretary of state, was a three-hour drive away in the capital, Islamabad, when the blast took place. Speaking to reporters, she praised the army’s anti-Taliban offensive in South Waziristan and offered U.S. support.
“I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan’s alone,” Clinton said. “These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well.”
Appearing with her, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the violence would not break his government’s will to fight back.
“The resolve and determination will not be shaken,” Qureshi said. “People are carrying out such heinous crimes — they want to shake our resolve. I want to address them: We will not buckle. We will fight you. We will fight you because we want peace and stability in Pakistan.”
No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but that is not unusual, especially when the victims are Pakistani civilians. Sahib Gul, a doctor at a nearby hospital, said 91 people were killed and more than 200 injured. Many of the victims were women and children.
Three bombs have exploded in Peshawar this month, including another one that killed more than 50 people, part of a barrage of at least 10 major attacks across the country that have killed some 250 people. Most have targeted security forces, but some bombs have gone off in public places, apparently to undercut support for the army’s assault on the border and expose the weakness of the government.
The Taliban have warned Pakistan that they would stage more attacks if the army does not end a new ground offensive in the South Waziristan tribal region, where the military has dispatched some 30,000 troops to flush out insurgents. South Waziristan is a major base for the Pakistani Taliban and other foreign militants.
North West Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain blamed the militants for Wednesday’s attack.
“We are hitting them at their center of terrorism, and they are hitting back targeting Peshawar,” he said. “This is a tough time for us. We are picking up the bodies of our women and children, but we will follow these terrorists and eliminate them.”
Imran Khan’s Stance (based on his statement on a previous terrorist activity by the Taliban)
The following discussion has been sourced from Imran Khan’s official website (Insaf.pk):
|madeel: 27/10/2009 8:20 PM
|This is a long held view by many respectable analyst that IK lacks political instinct. Recently Haroon Rasheed who is most outspoken supporter of PTI in the media has also joined that group of analysts. By the way, this group is largely consists of PTI sympathizers. I want to analyze whether such criticisms carried some weight.
This present Waziristan operation is not on the US dictation. Army took the initiative due to political dysfunctionality of the government. My point is that we can’t criticize this operation on the ground that it is on the US demands. In fact, one of the US army officials regards this operation fruitless from the US viewpoint.
The second point is that if some Pakistani come out on the street and kill innocent Pakistanis what we should do with him? Even if he has genuine grievences against the Pakistani givernment, he can not be allowed killing innocent people. Therefore we should control them using the available tools.
We don’t have any counter-insurgency force. We can’t have any in the next three or four years. Frontier Constablaury is not equipped with advanced equipment nor is well-trained to counter the fasadis. So the only tool we left with is the Pakistan Army.
PTI stance should be that: “We oppose any military operation in principle but given the circumstances and resources we left with no other option.”
IK may be kinf of administrator which we need as a prime minister. But he does lack political acuman. I repeat this view held by credible and respectable analyst who are well wisher of PTI.
Along with IK, CEC also carry the major share of political mistakes committed by IK. It may be the reason PTI why PTI is not able to challenge PPP or PML-N so far. That too is despite the broad viewership and respect IK enjoys.
To have a further discussion, a column is also posted. Aamir Khawani is an independent columnist who writes for Express Newspaper.
|che guevera: 28/10/2009 2:07 AM
|Well I agree with Adeel on this. Imran’s logic is that there were no pakistani taliban before 2004 and this all started once we entered FATA. Also the solution he proposes is that we should talk to them, isolate the friendly groups and then ,if needed and as last resort, do prescion strikes with commando attacks on the those who are against us. Then he also says that we should talk to US about withdrawing form Afghanistan.
I think the way this operation is done and the one in swat were required, could have been done in a better way. In fact they were done in above manner ( look at Waziristan for example with Waziris and other group are siding with army)Therefore it does not make sense to totally oppose these operations without giving a solid alternative. FC is too weak to tackle such insurgency. The result of above stance is that in each talk show it consumes 10 mins and we get more confused.
|farjad: 28/10/2009 9:20 AM
|Talk to whom,TTP barbarians who killed a 100 men women and children in Peshawar today.Now dont tell me they did so becoz an American drone killed civilians in the FATA. I have no sympathy for these killers who massacre fellow Muslims and Pakistanis. I find IK’s logic on the operation deeply flawed and his stand adamant. He refuses to concede that he was wrong about TTP and took the JI line of preaching the idealist line. The only language these retards understand is of force and violence and talking logic to them is foolhardy. IK is loosing credibility by being too philosophical about the TTP issue. I am one of his die-hard fans but on this issue I refuse to tow his line if that makes a difference at all.
Update 30 October 2009:
PESHAWAR: The death toll in Wednesday’s bomb blast in the city’s Meena Bazaar rose to 117 on Thursday evening and rescue workers believed that some bodies were still in the debris of the collapsed buildings.
A spokesman for the Edhi Foundation told Dawn that he himself had counted 117 bodies. He said that 14 madressah students were still trapped in a mosque destroyed by the blast and only one of the bodies had been retrieved so far.
However, SSP (coordination) Mohammad Alam Shinwari said that 105 bodies had been counted and now parts of the bodies were being recovered. Some parts of the vehicle used in the blast had been found, he added.
Officials of the Lady Reading Hospital said that two bodies had been identified by their relatives on Thursday morning.
The LRH issued a list of 105 dead people and 168 injured. The officials said that 81 people had been brought dead while two died in the hospital.
An aged woman, Mrs Shaheen, told Dawn that her young nephew Naeem Khan, who had a shop in the market, was missing after the blast and police were not allowing her to go near the scene.
Riaz Khan, of Jatan Street in Yakathut, said that his brother-in-law Abrar Khan, his wife Bebi Begum and their seven children had died in the blast.
Four of the bodies were found and buried. They were badly mutilated.