PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A car bomb exploded at a crowded bazaar in a northwestern Pakistani tribal region near the border with Afghanistan on Saturday, killing 26 people and wounding over 50 others, hospital and government officials said.
Shops and vehicles were badly damaged in the morning attack in the town of Landi Kotal in the Khyber tribal region near the main border crossing point of Torkham, government administrator Khalid Mumtaz said.
He said 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.
Hospital official Farooq Shah said the death toll was 26 people.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but suspicion fell on Pakistani Taliban insurgents who often target security forces and public places with bombings and shooting attacks.
The Pakistani army has carried out several operations to flush out Islamist militants in Khyber. Torkham is 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.
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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