Pakistan: 11 killed in car bombing in northwest

August 31, 2012 - 1:39 PM

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A powerful car bomb ripped through a market in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 11 people, police said.

The explosion in Mattani bazaar near the city of Peshawar injured another 20 people and damaged 30 shops, senior police official Abdul Sattar Khan said.

The latest violence in a volatile area near the Afghan border shows that militants still pose a great threat to a key U.S. ally despite government offensives against the Taliban and their supporters.

Khan said the dead and wounded had been transported to a hospital, and some of the injured were listed in a critical condition.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar condemned the attack, saying terrorists had killed innocent people by detonating the bomb in a crowded bazar. "Such attacks cannot deter our resolve in the fight against terrorism," he said.

Peshawar is the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan.

It has witnessed scores of such attacks, most blamed on Pakistani Taliban against whom the military has launched several offensives in recent years. Local tribal elders have assisted the military in its campaigns.

Meanwhile, at least 15 Pakistani soldiers have gone missing following a clash with Taliban in the Salarzai town of the Bajur tribal region, two security officials said Friday. They said authorities lost contact with the troops on Tuesday after fighting broke out.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Jahangir Azam Wazir, a government administrator in Salarzai, confirmed that "several soldiers" had been missing since Tuesday. He declined to give further details, and the army was not available for comment.

A Taliban spokesman who gives his name only as Sirajuddin this week claimed his group had captured 15 soldiers from Salarzai, adding that they would be executed soon and a video of the killing will be released.

Salarzai is a main town in the Bajur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, where the military launched an offensive last week.

Since then, at least 73 militants, 14 militiamen, 10 soldiers and 11 civilians — including six women and four children — have been killed there, local political official Nazimeen Khan said.

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Associated Press Writer Anwarullah Khan contributed to this report from Khar