Bombings kill 33 in Pakistani tribal region

Associated Press

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Two bombs killed 33 people in tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, officials and witnesses said, a reminder of the instability wracking the nuclear-armed country.

The first blast, a car bomb, hit a crowded bazaar in the town of Landi Kotal in the Khyber region near the Afghan border, government administrator Khalid Mumtaz said.

It killed 26 people and wounded over 50 others. Shops and vehicles were badly damaged in the morning attack.

Hundreds of people were in the bazaar when the parked explosives-laden car blew up. TV footage showed the charred skeleton of the car and local residents rushing to help take the victims to hospitals.

One of the wounded, 45-year-old Khan Mohammed, said he was sitting with a nephew in his shop when he saw a vehicle stopping in the street. Moments later he heard a massive blast.

"Something hit me in my shoulder and I fainted," he said, speaking from a hospital bed. He said two of his nephews who were outside the shop at the time of the explosion were killed and that he was worried for friends hurt in the attack.

The Pakistani army has carried out several operations to flush out Islamist militants in the Afghan border regions. Landi Kotal is near one of the two crossings for NATO supplies heading across the border into Afghanistan, but Islamabad closed the route last year to protest U.S. airstrikes that accidentally hit Pakistani troops.

Later in the nearby district of Kohat, a bomb hidden in a handcart killed seven people, among them police officers, said police officer Naeem Khan.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, but suspicion fell on Pakistani Taliban insurgents who often target security forces and public places with bombings and shooting attacks.

Also Saturday, violence erupted in the southwestern town of Kucklak after a man allegedly tried to burn the copy of Islam's holy book. Angered over the incident, residents rallied and torched a police station and five vehicles, said police official Shaukat Ali Khan.

Khan said the man who allegedly tried to burn the Quran has been arrested and that the police were trying to restore order.

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