For the third time in a week, Peshawar was brought to its knees, this time by a powerful 220-kg bomb in a car parked near a police station in the historic Qissa Khwani bazar, which killed 44 persons and injured over 90 on Sunday.
According to Shiraz Paracha, the spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Chief Minister, the explosive was fitted into a Toyota Corolla and parked outside Khan Raziq police station at the entrance of the bazar. Ironically, the police station was named after an officer killed in a terrorist attack. Over 30 shops were destroyed. “We are under tremendous pressure after the consecutive blasts and the government is formulating a strategy to counter these incidents,” he said.
Just as the shops were opening at around 11 am, the bomb detonated leaving those who were there shocked. It triggered another cylinder explosion in a nearby car, according to the police. The market was engulfed in a thick black cloud of smoke as cars and shops caught fire while panic spread.
For the third time this week, Lady Reading hospital was confronted with an emergency situation. The government maintains that there is enough space and medical personnel available for treatment.
The casualty department has 40 beds and is trying to cope with the fresh influx of the wounded.
Police said the entire white Toyota car was fashioned into a bomb and a crater was formed at the site of the blast. Fire-fighters had to climb into the shops lining the road to douse the fires.
This incident comes after Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan suggested that the Taliban should be allowed to open an office in the country for talks for which he has been roundly criticised. PTI heads the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government which is now under fire for its lack of security.
Mr. Khan, in a quick statement on Sunday, strongly condemned the Peshawar blast and assured the nation, especially the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, that culprits will be punished.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) too has condemned the blast as also other top leaders. Party secretary general Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said such acts of cowardice threatened the ongoing peace process, adding that the government was determined to exterminate all facets of terrorism.
Last Sunday, two suicide bombers had attacked a church in Peshawar, not far from this bazaar, killing over 80 and on Friday a bomb went off in a bus carrying government employees, killing 19of them and injuring over 40.
Qissa Khwani bazar is known for a massacre of the Khudai Khidmatgars, by British in 1930. They were gunned down during a non-violent protest.
It is famous even now as a market of story tellers. It is said that caravans on a long journey used it as a resting spot. .
It is also the birth place of Mohammed Yusuf Khan better known as Dilip Kumar.