Pakistan: Explosion rocks provincial town

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Peshawar is in the North West Frontier Province, close to the Afghan border.

A bomb blast at a popular hotel in the frontier town of Peshawar in Pakistan has killed an estimated 24 people and injuriing dozens more.

Police say the blast happened at lunchtime, when the hotel was crowded with diners. They said two women and a five-year-old boy were among the victims.

Inspector General of Police, Mr Sharif Virk and other senior police and government officials have told the BBC that they believe the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. Police say that a severed leg, possibly that of the alleged bomber, was found at the scene of the blast with a note in Pashto tied to it warning "American spies" of a similar fate.

The blasts come just days after violent riots in the city of Karachi between opposition parties and the government, as well as a successful U.S target strike against senior Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Peshawar has been host to a large concentration of Afghan refugees ever since the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in 1979.

The blasts have been condemned by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf. He directed the provincial government to thoroughly investigate the incident and take strict action against the perpetrators.