Abdul Malik, a ‘nazim’ or mayor who was spearheading efforts against the Taliban, his nephew, a young girl and the head of a ‘lashkar’ or tribal militia were among the dead, officials said.
Malik's son was among the injured, they said. Police said Malik was the target of the suicide attack at the cattle market in Mattani, a suburb of Peshawar.
Malik, who survived at least five previous attempts on his life, was once considered to be close to the Taliban but later turned against the militants.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A man named Omar, who claimed to be the Taliban spokesman in the area, told the media that Malik was targeted because he had formed a lashkar to take on the militants. The bomber struck shortly after 9.30 am, when the market was packed with people shopping for sacrificial animals ahead of the Eid-ud-Zuha festival.
The injured were taken to hospital in private cars and ambulances.
Police cordoned off the market and collected the bomber’s body parts while bomb disposal experts scoured the site for clues. Pakistani officials at Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar’s main healthcare facility, said nine of the injured were in a serious condition.
Witnesses said the bomber, a youth aged between 22 and 24 years, detonated his explosives as soon as Malik emerged from his car.
They said the attacker came to the market in a bus from a nearby Taliban-dominated tribal area. The bomber’s suicide jacket was packed with 10 kg of explosives and pellets, police said. Eight cars and several shops were destroyed by the blast.
Officials said policemen had been deputed to guard Malik and he was given a special permit to carry weapons after he received threats from the Taliban.
However, Malik left his home in the Adezai area of Mattani this morning without his police guards. Peshawar has witnessed several devastating suicide attacks and bombings over the past few weeks. Nearly 120 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a women’s market in the city last month.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned today’s attack and said the government will continue its efforts to wipe out extremists and terrorists.
In separate messages, the two leaders expressed their resolve not to be deterred by such acts of violence.
Islamabad: At least a dozen people, including an anti-Taliban mayor, were killed and 36 others injured when a suicide bomber struck a busy market on the outskirts of Peshawar in northwest Pakistani on Sunday, nearly two weeks after a massive car bombing in the city left 120 dead.
First Published: Sunday, November 08, 2009, 20:22