PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - At least 34 people were killed in a suspected suicide bombing in the Pakistani city of Peshawar late Saturday, the latest attack since Osama bin Laden’s killing last month.
The bombing took place near a building that houses several newspaper offices as well as apartments. The attack occurred when a large number of people were dining in the nearby restaurants.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack but Taliban militants have vowed to avenge the killing of al Qaeda chief bin Laden by U.S. SEALS in a secret raid in the northwestern town of Abbottabad on May 2.
A small blast preceded a big one, which senior police official Banaras Khan said police suspected was carried out by a suicide bomber.
“After the second blast, a fire broke out. Several charred bodies were lying on the ground while some wounded people were crawling away from the site,” witness Naeem Ahmed told Reuters.
Television footage showed twisted window frames, shards of broken glasses and fallen electricity cables strewn on roads as rescue workers were loading wounded men on stretchers into ambulances.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of the northwestern Khyber Pukhtunkhuwa (KP) province, told reporters that doctors had said the death toll was 34, “but it may rise as many wounded people are in critical condition.”
Peshawar is the capital of KP, which borders Afghanistan.
Hospital officials said 100 people were wounded, 21 of them seriously. Several journalists and policemen were among the wounded.
“As I arrived here, one of the wounded man cried ‘please take me to hospital, I am alive’,” another witness told Express television at the site of the attack.
Since bin Laden was killed, militants have attacked a heavily guarded naval base in Karachi; killed nearly 100 people in twin suicide bombings at the headquarters of a paramilitary force in the northwest; attacked U.S. consulate convoy in Peshawar and killed a Saudi diplomat in Karachi.
Additional reporting by Kamran Haider; Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Alison Williams