PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A car bomb exploded at a crowded bazar in a northwestern Pakistani tribal region near the border with Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 20 people and wounding over 50 others, hospital and government officials said.
Several shops and vehicles were also badly damaged in the attack in the town of Landi Kotal in the Khyber tribal region near the main border crossing point of Torkham, government administrator Khalid Mumtaz told The Associated Press.
He said hundreds of people were in the bazar when someone parked the explosive-laden car and minutes later the bomb exploded.
TV footage showed the charred skeleton of the car used in the attack 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 20 people were killed in the blast, and some of them were in critical condition.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the morning blast, but the suspicion fell on Pakistani Taliban 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, which is one of the two routes for NATO supplies across the border into Afghanistan.
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 Quran has been arrested and that the police were trying to restore order.