Islamabad: Rescuers scrambled to remove the rubble of over 20 houses that collapsed due to the impact of the suicide car bombing at a playground in northwest Pakistan as the toll in the devastating attack rose to 95 on Saturday.
”Police and emergency service officials said three more bodies were pulled out of the debris at Shah Hasankhel village in North West Frontier Province this morning, taking the total number of dead to 95.
Nearly 100 people were injured and some of them are in a serious condition, officials said.
”The bomber, who was in a SUV packed with an estimated 300 kgs of explosives, drove into the middle of the playground and blew himself up at 5.30 pm local time yesterday, when scores of people were watching a volleyball game between two local teams.
”The blast created a crater in the playground and reduced over 20 nearby houses and several shops to piles of bricks. Dozens died instantly and witnesses said the bodies of some players could not be found as they were blown to bits.
“Witnesses said the playground was littered with blood and body parts. The dead included teenagers and young men who were participating in the game or watching it.
Six security personnel and as many women and children were also among the dead, police said.
”The injured were taken to hospitals in Lakki Marwat, Bannu and Peshawar as rescue operations continued to remove the rubble overnight. Many people whose homes were destroyed spent the night in the open in the bitter winter cold.
“Police said they were looking for a vehicle that was seen in Shah Hasankhel along with the car driven by the suicide attacker.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack but police said it was carried out in retaliation of efforts by residents of Shah Hasankhel to keep the Taliban out of the area.
"The village was a stronghold of militants and the local people set up a militia and expelled militants from the area. The attack seems to be a reaction (by the militants)," district police chief Ayub Khan said.
”Lakki Marwat district borders South Waziristan tribal region, where the Pakistan Army has been conducting a major offensive against the Taliban since October.
”Yesterday's attack was the latest in a series of suicide bombings across Pakistan that has killed over 500 people since October last year.
First Published: Saturday, January 02, 2010, 15:23