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Car bomb in crowded Pakistan market kills 100

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Suspected militants exploded a car bomb in a market crowded with women and children Wednesday, killing 100 people and turning shops selling wedding dresses, toys and jewelry into a mass of burning debris and bodies.

The attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar was Pakistan's deadliest since 2007 and came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the country to offer support for its fight against a strengthening al-Qaida and Taliban-led insurgency based along the Afghan border.

Clinton was three hours' drive away in the capital meeting Pakistani government leaders when the bomb went off in Peshawar. Her trip was not announced in advance in Pakistan for security reasons.

The bomb was directed squarely at civilians, unlike many previous blasts that have targeted security forces or government or Western interests. While no one claimed responsibility, the bomb appeared aimed at undercutting public and political support for an ongoing army offensive against militants close to the frontier and showing that the government was unable to keep its people safe.

The shaky, U.S.-backed government said the bombing — the latest in a series this month — had strengthened its resolve to press ahead with the assault in the South Waziristan border region, a militant stronghold and a global training and operations hub for al-Qaida.

At least 60 of the dead were women and children. Most security analysts said the attack could backfire on the insurgents and lead more people to inform on them.

"He who kills a Muslim has no place but hell," said Mumtaz Ali, a wounded 19-year-old who was studying in a Muslim school attached to a mosque that was damaged in the attack. "We are taught the way of the prophet. We are not taught to kill innocent people."

The U.S. believes fighting the insurgents on the frontier is vital to defeating extremism in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan, where Taliban militants with links to those in Pakistan are waging an ever more violent campaign against American and NATO troops.

Underlining the threat in both nations, Taliban militants in suicide vests stormed a guest house used by U.N. staff in the heart of the Afghan capital on Wednesday, killing 11 people — six of them U.N. staff, including one American.

The bombing just before 1:15 p.m. destroyed much of the Mina Bazaar in Peshawar's old town, a warren of narrow alleys clogged with stalls, shops and food sellers. The district drew mostly poor female shoppers and their children in this conservative city.

Fire swept through the area after the blast, sending a cloud of gray smoke into the air.

The wounded sat amid burning debris and parts of bodies. Men tried to pull survivors from beneath wreckage. One carried away a baby with a bloody face and a group of men rescued a young boy covered in dust, but others found only bodies of the dead.

"My son died here," one man cried.

A two-story building collapsed as firefighters doused it with water, causing more panic. Several hours later, people were still searching the debris for loved ones.

"There was a deafening sound, and I was like a blind man for a few minutes," said Mohammad Usman, who was wounded in the shoulder. "I heard women and children crying and started to help others. There was the smell of human flesh in the air."

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of North West Frontier Province, said 100 people had died and more than 200 were wounded.

Clinton was a few hours into her first visit to Pakistan as secretary of state when the bomb exploded.

"I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan's alone," she said at a news conference that many Pakistani TV stations broadcast alongside images of burning buildings and wounded victims. "These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well."

Standing beside her, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the attack would not break the government's will.

"The resolve and determination will not be shaken," Qureshi said. "People are carrying out such heinous crimes. They want to shake our resolve. I want to address them: We will not buckle. We will fight you."

Clinton's three-day visit is designed to get maximum public exposure to improve America's image in a country where many people dislike and distrust the United States. She plans to meet with students, business leaders and opposition figures, as well as government and military leaders.

"It is fair to say there have been a lot of misconceptions about what the United States intends for our relationship with Pakistan," Clinton told reporters flying with her. "It is unfortunate there are those who question our motives. I want to clear the air."

Peshawar, the economic hub of the northwest and the seat of the provincial government, has long been a favorite target of militants who control large parts of nearby tribal regions near the Afghan border.

Extremism has flourished there since it was used as a staging ground in the 1980s for U.S.-funded fighters preparing to battle the Soviet-installed regime in Afghanistan.

The attack brought the death toll from militant bombings or commando-style raids to more than 300 in October alone.

Three blasts have taken place in Peshawar, including another attack in a nearby market that killed 50. The Taliban have claimed the attacks on government, army or Western targets in calls to media organizations, but not ones killing civilians.

It was the deadliest bombing in Pakistan since a suicide bomber hit the homecoming festivities for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the southern city of Karachi in October 2007, killing around 150 people. Bhutto was later killed in a separate attack.

Hussain blamed the militants based in South Waziristan for Wednesday's attack.

"We are hitting them at their center of terrorism, and they are hitting back targeting Peshawar," he said. "This is a tough time for us. We are picking up the bodies of our women and children, but we will follow these terrorists and eliminate them."


Khan reported from Peshawar and Burns from Islamabad.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Moral Booster to back up Monetary Support(?) Afghan-Iraq-Pak failed triangle - no one to blame i.e. blameless International Community lead by super-power the United States of America.

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I can't imagine that Clinton's presence in Pakistan is going to count for anything. The taliban are busy blowing up civilians in the name of Allah, the compasionate, the merciful (yeah, not in their book) as often as they can. Clinton isn't going to change anybody's mind.

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Clinton arrives in Pakistan and leaves within 20 minutes cause it is one dam-scary place.

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Greeted with a massive suicide bomb.

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The infidels strike again, against women and children!

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More Muslims killed...I'm sorry but I really don't understand these people. They're killing their own kind.

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They just don't care about whoever they kill. Whether those men women children were their wives, their children, their relatives ,their distant relatives, their old friends..or not, they just don't care. Just blow all up, kill all. . Its very tough time for Pakistan indeed. All the best to Pakistan army in the fight to eliminate these murderers . No, these murderers don't kill their own kind, they kill anyone who is not Taliban or AQ . Those murdered men, women ,children young and old from New York, Madrid, London to Bali, Bagdad, Kabul...every where PROVES this point clearly .

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Dick Gephardt said the following at the 2004 Missouri Democratic Convention "Politics is a substitute for violence." I wish those that intentionally kill innocent people for political reasons would heed his words.

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SuperLib: More Muslims killed...I'm sorry but I really don't understand these people. They're killing their own kind.

Its a way of securing power. Its the gist of any civil war. But I am sure both Canadians and Mexicans were saying the same thing about 1861.

And speaking of America, would the Taliban and AQ be so strong in Pakistan if they had not been riled up by the U.S.? I am going to have to answer no. But thankfully, some people's stock shares go up in value when regions are stablized. All hail the prophets, and may peace be upon them? No, all hail the profits, and may I get a piece of them?

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I wrote: some people's stock shares go up in value when regions are stablized.

Sorry. Meant to say "destabilized".

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I have some friends in Peshawar and I fear for them all the time.

I truly despise this radical movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They kill their own innocent people without remorse. They wage war on the culture and history of their people. They ban music and art and threaten creators with death if they don't comply. And they see the world through eyes that are blind to the suffering of the people and to the word of their own religion.

I have spent a lot of time studying Islamic music the last few years and along the way learned a lot more about their faith. There is nothing, NOTHING, in their faith that justifies this. The Taliban are heritics against their own faith and war criminals against humanity as a whole. They threaten the stability of Pakistan inviting a wider regional conflict and they continue to stand in the way of peace for the long suffering people of Afghanistan.

And Afghan musician once told me "You cannot build another man's house for him, he must do this work himself. But you can give him your hand and help."

I agree with this statement. We cannot remove the Taliban from either country. But we can do what is necessary to give people hope and committment to a future without violence. And that will close the doors to the Taliban forever. We must provide the security that the people need to allow them to start building their world. Give them the money and tools to do so. And stand by them and help. Only then, truly only then will the Taliban and their hold on the tribal people's end and these monsters brought to pay for what they have done.

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SBBarnes. One note. It was inevitable that the Taliban and their political system would become an issue in Pakistan. The Taliban were born in the slums and refugee camps around Peshawar and have been working to build their hold on these tribal regions long before 911.

The difference is that now the world is paying attention. It should have done so earlier when the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan. That was the golden moment to work for stability. And the world just looked away.

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tkoind2: It was inevitable that the Taliban and their political system would become an issue in Pakistan.

Not necessarily. Some groups thrive on violence and instability. As soon as peace breaks out they fall into decline. The Taliban seems like just such a group. Had they been allowed to stay focused on Afghanistan and busy and bottled up there I don't believe they would be in control of the Swat valley today for example.

As with others I believe we should have stayed out of the nation building business and focused on getting bin Laden. Taking on the Taliban directly in Afghanistan was and is stupid. A policy of containment would have been far better although not perfect either. Oh well. You cannot build a man's house for him, or rather, should not.

And a golden moment for stability in Afghanistan? A nuthouse is a nuthouse my friend. Hiring the world's finest administrator is not going to make the people any less nuts, even if the world's worst administrator is on his way out. All the Afghans have ever known is fighting. The Taliban way is the only way they will even know peace, as brutal a peace as the Taliban promised. Now we have just stirred up the hornets nest, much like oppression of the first Muslims turned Mohammad from peacenik to general. And look what happened.

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The Taliban are not inevitable, and they are not unstoppable. They are like a cancer that grows with its own inner logic at the expense of the healthy body. Sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker. There are ways and means to avoid, prevent, even cure cancer, but there are on the other hand also conditions that build up and favour its growth.

The Taliban have many weaknesses; they make renewed efforts to overcome them and rally support. So should we.

The world has many strengths, once of which is a warm and benevolent attitude to Islam. (There are odd exceptions, of course.) We need to find spokespeople who can say what needs to be said, and we need to have the clarity and courage to walk the right path for all of humanity.

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tkind - "There is nothing, NOTHING, in their faith that justifies this. The Taliban are heritics against their own faith and war criminals against humanity as a whole. They threaten the stability of Pakistan inviting a wider regional conflict and they continue to stand in the way of peace for the long suffering people of Afghanistan."

Everyone should remember this, including the poster (I forget his/her name) who often ends their posts with 'Islam, the religion of peace.'

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Now we saw the Frankeinstein made by the Regan/Bush-era in 1980s! This conflict will further dragging america into the chaos of Pakistan. Pakistan is a nuclear armed country with an unpopular leader Zadari installed by the west. The growing chaos of pakistan and afghanistan was western world's support of the islamic jihadism against the soviets in 1980s!

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All very sad, in fact worse than sad. One thing which I don't understand: Why is it that we never hear anything from the Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques and the top Immams in Saudi Arabia denouncing this Muslim violence?

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Harry, I can think of at least two very good reasons why these leaders say nothing about such atrocities as the one in question...

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tokind2:

" I have spent a lot of time studying Islamic music the last few years and along the way learned a lot more about their faith. There is nothing, NOTHING, in their faith that justifies this. "

Then obviously you have not been studying very much. All you need to do is read up on jihadist literature to follow their reasoning. And to find jihadist literatey, you don´t even have to go to radical sites... even "moderate" sites link to articles by Hassan al Banna, Yussuf al Qaradafi, and the like.

By blanking islam out of the islamic jihad, you are just playing their game.

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WilliB "All you need to do is read up on jihadist literature to follow their reasoning."

Yes, but it's their reasoning that allows darkness to be seen as light.

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"Jihad" means a spiritual battle between yourself and sin.

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These people have real problems... Not us.

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"The bomb was directed squarely at civilians"

Those civilians must have been infidels.

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Well, if that is true Sarge, then it was infidels against infidels.

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"Suspected militants" my astrolabe! This is a deliberate CIA/Mossad effort at destabilizing Pakistan, seizing their nukes, and making Pipelinistan a whole lot easier to deliver oil to Haifa. Read between the lines folks, read between the lines.

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eigonosensei,

"Jihad" means a spiritual battle between yourself and sin.

Almost. In the Holy Qu'ran it says that "jihad" is the efforts a follower of Allah, BBHHN, must make to ensure that s/he is not prevented from exercising his/her religious duties and obligations. BBC designates it as follows: The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war.

Muslims use the word Jihad to describe three different kinds of struggle:

* A believer's internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible * The struggle to build a good Muslim society * Holy war: the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary

Many modern writers claim that the main meaning of Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle, and this is accepted by many Muslims.

However there are so many references to Jihad as a military struggle in Islamic writings that it is incorrect to claim that the interpretation of Jihad as holy war is wrong. Jihad and the Prophet

The internal Jihad is the one that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is said to have called the greater Jihad.

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