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Central & South Asia
Bomb blast hits Pakistan protest
Suspected suicide bomber kills at least 25 people during demonstration in Peshawar.
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2010 17:58 GMT
The explosion took place as protesters gathered
to demonstrate over power cuts [AFP]

At least 25 people, including a number of police officers, have been killed after a bomb blast during a protest in northwest Pakistan. 

Another 30 people were hurt in the attack in an area of the old city of Peshawar, known as the Storytellers' Bazaar.

A local government official said that the explosion was believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said: "There was a large demonstration against the frequent power cut across Pakistan.

"A large crowd was heading toward the bazaar when the explosion hit. A senior police officer of the city was killed in the explosion.

"The rally was organised by Jamaat-e-Islamiya an extreme right-wing religious group, and some of its workers may have been killed during the attack," he said.

A number of the protesters were believed to be among the dead.

"We were burning tyres after the protest. We had set one tyre on fire when a deafening blast rocked the whole area," Saifullah, a party worker, told the AFP news agency.

Taliban blamed

Shafqat Malik, the chief of the bomb disposal squad, told reporters that the blast was caused by a bomber wearing a suicide vest packed with steel pellets, ball-bearings and six to eight kilogrammes of explosives.

"We have recovered the head and legs of the attacker," he said.

"There are many groups and agencies involved in the acts of terrorism but this is the failure of government who are responsible for the protection of citizens"

Siraj ul-Haq, deputy head of Jamat-e-Islamiya

Police and government officials blamed the Taliban for the bombing.

"The terrorists are beasts, Their aim is just to shed blood," Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial information minister, said.

But Siraj ul-Haq, the deputy head of Jamat-e-Islamiya, instead declined to accuse Taliban fighters of staging the attack.

"There are many groups and agencies involved in the acts of terrorism but this is the failure of government who are responsible for the protection of citizens," he said.

The government declared three days of mourning in the province after the blast. 

The attack came hours after an eight-year-old boy was killed and at least 10 other people were wounded in a bombing outside a high school in Peshawar, which struck as students were wrapping up the school day.

"It was an improvised explosive device planted near a shop. It was a timed device. School children were the target," Mohammad Karim Khan, a senior police official told AFP news agency.

Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have been blamed for scores of suicide and bomb blast in northwest Pakistan that have killed hundreds of people over the past year.

Peshawar, which lies close to the border with Afghanistan, has been one of the hardest-hit cities.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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