A suicide bomber apparently targeting an anti-Taliban mayor struck a crowded market in northwest Pakistan today, killing the mayor and 11 other people and injuring dozens, police said.
The morning attack took place in the town of Adazai, about 10 miles south of the main northwest city of Peshawar. The market was crowded with shoppers and goats being sold to celebrate the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid.
The mayor, Abdul Malik, who was initially reported to have survived, died in the attack, said Sahibzada Anis, the top official in Peshawar.
Malik, who had once been a Taliban supporter, had later switched sides and formed a local militia to help fight the militants.
"Malik had survived several attacks on his life in the recent past, since he turned against the militants," said Anis. "But today the militants have finally killed him."
Eleven bodies and 25 injured people had been rushed to the hospital, police officer Abdul Sattar Khan said. A young girl was among those killed and several of the injured were in critical condition, officials said.
Khan Zamir was buying goats for the Eid celebration when an explosion ripped through the street.
"That place turned into a hell where the dead and injured were lying everywhere and blood and flesh were spread around," he said, adding that two of his relatives were badly injured. "Now we have our blood in this war," he said, vowing revenge against the attackers.
Militants have struck numerous times in Pakistan in recent weeks, killing more than 300 civilians and soldiers in attacks aimed at weakening the government's resolve to continue a military operation against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in South Waziristan.
The government launched the offensive in mid-October in the semiautonomous tribal region, which runs along the Afghan border and where the government has seldom had significant influence. The area has become the main Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuary in the country.
The military says hundreds of militants have been killed in the fighting — a claim the Taliban dismisses.
About 350,000 people have fled the fighting.Reuse content