Pakistan explosion: Dozens killed in Peshawar market

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Media captionThe attack came just one week after a deadly blast at a church in the city, as Rajesh Mirchandani reports

An explosion has ripped through a market in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, leaving at least 33 dead and dozens wounded, officials say.

Police said a bomb had exploded in the Kissa Khwani market, with shops and vehicles set alight.

The blast comes a week after a double suicide bombing that killed at least 80 people at a church in the city.

On Friday, at least 17 people were killed in the bombing of a bus carrying government employees near Peshawar.

Peshawar, the main city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has been hit by numerous bomb and gun attacks blamed on Taliban insurgents in recent years.

Hospital emergency

Police said they suspected the explosion was caused by a car bomb.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper quoted the health minister as saying that the main Peshawar police station may have been the main target.

However, bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik said it appeared the blast had taken place some way from the station.

He told Agence France-Presse that a parked car had been "converted into a remote controlled bomb".

One shop owner, Nazar Ali, told Associated Press: "It was a huge blast that was followed by fire in vehicles. Thick black smoke covered the air and splinters spread all over. I saw people lying dead and bleeding."

An emergency situation was declared at the Lady Reading Hospital as it received the injured, many of them badly burned. Officials said 76 people had been hurt.

Anxious relatives gathered outside the hospital for news.

Rising violence has hindered new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's overtures to end the insurgency through peace talks with the Taliban.

On 21 September, Pakistan released from the jail the co-founder of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

But the Pakistan Taliban have consistently rejected the country's constitution and demand the imposition of Sharia law.

Image caption Scores were hurt in addition to those killed in the blast
Image caption A remote-controlled car bomb was used, officials said
Image caption This was the third deadly attack in Peshawar in a week
Image caption PM Nawaz Sharif said the bombing was an attack on humanity

Mr Sharif is in New York at the UN and is to meet Indian PM Manmohan Singh later on Sunday.

Mr Sharif strongly condemned the Peshawar bombing in a message from New York, saying: "Those involved in the killing of innocent people are devoid of humanity and all religions."

Ahead of the talks, Mr Singh said Pakistan must stop being "the epicentre of terrorism".

Last Sunday's attack on the historic All Saints church - thought to be the deadliest attack against Christians in Pakistan - sparked angry protests nationwide.

Two Islamist militant groups with Taliban links said they had ordered the attack to hit back at US drone strikes.

More than 120 people were wounded.

Friday's bus bomb targeted government employees returning home in the Gulbela area, some 15km (9 miles) north-east of the city.

In addition to those killed, at least 34 people were injured.