A car bomb ripped through a crowded street in Peshawar's oldest bazaar, killing 40 people in the third blast to hit the troubled Pakistani city in a week, officials said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.

The explosion appeared to have been caused by a bomb planted in a parked car and detonated by remote control, Zahid Khan, a police officer, said

It went off near a mosque and a police station, damaging the house of worship and nearby shops and engulfing many vehicles in flames, police said.

The attack in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan, comes a week after two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of worshippers at a church, killing 85 people.

On Friday, 19 people died when a bomb planted on a bus carrying government employees exploded in the Peshawar outskirts.

The Sunni armed group Jundullah claimed responsibility for the church attack, saying it targeted Christians to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed by US drone strikes.

Little progress

The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said it would like to negotiate with the armed groups to end the bloodshed, but so far those efforts have made little progress.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the Taliban said Sharif's demand that the fighters lay down their weapons and respect the constitution indicated the new leader is not serious about peace talks. Previously Sharif had not given preconditions for the talks.

Sharif "showed that he is following the policy of America and its allies", the spokesman said.

"We will hold talks with [the government] only when it gets the real power to take decisions".

Also in northwestern Pakistan, two missiles from an American drone hit a compound in North Waziristan on Sunday, killing three fighters affiliated with the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taliban, two intelligence officers said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The Pakistani government condemned both the bomb blast and the drone attack.

Source: Agencies