Peshawar: At least nine persons were killed and 32 others injured when a suicide bomber targeted a hotel in a Shia-dominated area of this northwestern Pakistani city on Tuesday.
The blast occurred in the historic Qissa Khwani Bazar in Peshawar, the capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The injured included women and children.
Most of the victims were Shias from Kurram tribal region, which has for long been affected by sectarian violence. The bomber struck as they were having dinner at the hotel in the congested Koocha Risaldar neighbourhood.
The area is a hub of the minority Shia community in Peshawar and has many Imambargahs and Imambaras. An imambargah or Shia prayer hall is located near the site of the blast.
The explosion destroyed the hotel and blew out the windows of many nearby buildings.
Additional security forces and rescue teams rushed to the site and took the bodies and injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital, where an emergency was declared. Officials said 32 people were being treated in the hospital.
Earlier in the day, a prominent Shia leader was shot dead in the city in an apparent sectarian attack.
There has been a sharp rise in sectarian violence in Pakistan since a deadly clash between Sunnis and Shias in Rawalpindi in November.
Provincial Governor Shaukatullah Khan and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak condemned the blast, which occurred at a time when the federal government and the Taliban are preparing for peace talks.