Twin blasts rip through market in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan
Pakistan's Taliban has denied responsibility for twin bomb blasts that ripped through a crowded market in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday, killing 39 people and injuring dozens more. The attack devastated the Khyber Super Market district which includes a hotel, shops and student accommodation.
A senior local police official told the French news agency that there was a small first blast which drew onlookers followed four minutes later by a much larger explosion believed to be from a suicide attack.
Those killed included two journalists working for English-language newspapers Pakistan Today and The News.
The Pakistani Taliban have vowed to carry out attacks to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEALs, but denied any role in the bombing and said they target only the government and military.
"We did not carry out this attack in Peshawar. It is an attempt by foreign secret agencies who are doing it to malign us," said Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan. “We do not target innocent people. Our targets are very clear, we attack security forces, government and people who are siding with it."
Nearly 4,500 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks based in the nearby tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.
The latest violence came shortly after visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Pakistan to eradicate militant sanctuaries, in talks on a peace process with the Taliban.
Karzai and a raft of top aides held two days of meetings in Islamabad in the aftermath of bin Laden's death which has heightened calls within the United States for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.
The twin attacks also came a week after Pakistan's Al-Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the network's most feared operational leaders, was believed to have been killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan tribal region, near the Afghan border.