17 dead in suicide bomb blast

A pickup truck packed with explosives blew up a security checkpoint in Pakistan's volatile north-west today, killing at least 17 people and injuring 80 in an attack possibly intended for a more important target, officials said.

The suicide attack occurred on the outskirts of Peshawar on the day Pakistani MPs voted for a new president, underscoring the challenges facing a country the US has pressured to crack down on insurgents.



Television footage showed a blast crater three feet deep and destroyed vehicles and pieces of debris scattered across a large area. Officials said many people were trapped under the rubble of damaged buildings in a nearby market. Civilians dug frantically with their hands in hopes of finding survivors.



Nasirulmulk Bangash, a top police official in the area, said the vehicle carried at least 330 pounds of explosives - an amount he called "unprecedented" - and was apparently en route to Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province.



The amount of explosives indicated the attack was aimed at a higher-value target than the small checkpoint, but might have been tripped up by high security on election day, Mr Bangash said, without speculating on what the intended target might have been.



At least 17 people died and around 80 were wounded, including 15 who were in critical condition, said Sahib Gul, an official at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. Several of the dead were believed to be police manning the post.



Sher Zaman, 15, told The Associated Press from a hospital bed that he was selling fruit from a cart at the market when he heard a large explosion and was knocked down when something hit him in the chest. He said residents quickly gathered and helped transport casualties to hospitals.



No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.



In recent weeks, however, the Pakistani Taliban have said they were to blame for a string of suicide bombings they called revenge for military offensives in the north-west region, which borders Afghanistan. One attack killed nearly 70 people at a major weapons factory.



Pakistan has struggled to contain rising militancy in its borders, and the fledgling government has tried both peace talks and military operations to stop the insurgents.



It's an effort watched closely by the US, which says that militants have safe havens in Pakistan's north-west from which they plan attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan.



A recent US-led ground cross-border assault on a Pakistani tribal region, said to have killed at least 15 people, prompted protests from the government and angered many Pakistanis.



Asif Ali Zardari, widower of murdered ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, won the presidency. He has vowed to be tough on militancy.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Sport
Sam Allardyce
sport
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?