Suicide car bomber kills 93 in Pakistan

AFP , PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

Sun, Jan 03, 2010 - Page 1

Investigators sifted through rubble yesterday after a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives-filled vehicle in a crowd watching a volleyball game in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 93.

Friday’s bombing marked a bloody start to the New Year for Pakistan, which has seen a surge in attacks blamed on the Taliban in recent months as Islamist fighters avenge military operations aimed at crushing their northwest strongholds.

The huge blast was Pakistan’s deadliest in more than two months, triggering the collapse of more than 20 houses, some with families inside, in a village bordering a Taliban stronghold, officials said. The attack was condemned by Britain and the US, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowing the US would continue supporting the Pakistani people “in their efforts to chart their own future, free from fear and intimidation.”

The bomber detonated his vehicle packed with explosives as fans gathered at a volleyball court to watch two local sides face off in the village of Shah Hasan Khan in Bannu district, bordering Taliban stronghold South Waziristan.

“The villagers were watching the match between the two village teams when the bomber drove his double-cabin pick-up vehicle into them and blew it up,” district police chief Mohammad Ayub Khan said. “Five more people died overnight in the government’s main hospital in Lakki Marwat town, raising the death toll to 93.”

Six children and five paramilitary soldiers were among the dead, he said.

The bomber appears to have used 300kg of explosives, Khan said, adding that a three-member team had been formed to investigate the attack.