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9 killed in blast at religious centre in northwest Pakistan

Thursday, 16 January 2014 - 8:22pm IST Updated: Thursday, 16 January 2014 - 10:25pm IST | Place: ISLAMABAD | Agency: IANS

At least nine persons, including two children, were killed and nearly 70 injured in a major blast at a proselytising centre in Pakistan's restive northwest on Thursday.

 

The explosion ripped through the "Tableeghi Markaz" in Bashirabad area of Peshawar district when worshippers were offering evening prayers, police said.

Nine persons, including two children, were killed and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Shoukat Yousufzai said the death toll could rise.

Rescue workers said children were also among the injured. 

The condition of seven of the 67 injured was described as critical by Yousufzai.

Hundreds of people were present at the centre run by a Sunni group at the time of the blast.

Bomb Disposal Squad chief Shafqat Malik said an estimated 5 kg of explosives hidden in a ghee container was used in the attack.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid denied his group was involved in the attack.

Police and a bomb disposal squad conducted a search and clearance operation, and an emergency was declared in hospitals across Peshawar.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam spokesman Maulana Jalil Jan said the bomb ripped through the worshippers. The centre was sealed from four sides and the people inside were asked to leave.

This is not the first time such a gathering has been attacked in the northwest. A previous blast targeted people at a Tableeghi Jamaat centre in Swat, an erstwhile stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and provincial Chief Minister Pervez Khattak condemned the blast.


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