Blast kills 36 in Peshawar; Taliban claim responsibility
PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday killing at least 36 people and wounding over 50, DawnNews quoted senior minister Bashir Bilour as saying.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, an AP report said.
The funeral in the city’s Matani area was for the relative of a pro-government, ethnic Pashtun tribal elder, DCO Peshawar Siraj Ahmed told Reuters.
The attacker mingled with the mourners before setting off his explosives, Ahmed said.
Like in other parts of the northwest, Matani is home to several tribal armies that fight against the Taliban and get some government support.
The militants have often targeted the militiamen.
The Pashtun elder whose relative was being buried on Wednesday was involved with a pro-government militia force. It was not immediately clear if he had been killed or wounded in the explosion.
“People had gathered and had just started praying when a boy walked in and blew himself up,” survivor Mohammad Eman told a private television channel.
Bloodied shoes and caps littered the ground where the attack took place, on the outskirts of the city, as stunned survivors milled around or bundled the wounded into trucks and away to hospital, television images showed.
Taliban claim responsibility
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault.
Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the insurgents targeted the militiamen because they were allied with the Pakistani government and, effectively, the United States.
”We will carry out more such attacks if they did not stop their activities,” he said via phone from an undisclosed location.
The attack came a day after militants set off a car-bomb at a natural gas filling station in the central city of Faisalabad killing at least 25 people and wounding about 125.
Pakistani Taliban fighting to bring down the government claimed responsibility for that attack.
Pakistan has seen a wave of bombs in the past three years, many in the northwest near the border with Afghanistan, where the military is battling al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban insurgents.
The army says that several military offensives have weakened the militants but bomb attacks are still common.