baluch pattern
Sanaullah Baloch Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur Karlos Zurutuza Selig Harrison Malik Siraj Akbar Zaffar Baloch Sanaullah Baloch: Exploitation of Mineral Wealth... Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur: Negligent dereliction of duty... Karlos Zurutuza: Inside Iran's Most Secretive... Selig Harrison: The Chinese Cozy Up... Malik Siraj Akbar: Remembering Qambar Chakar... Zaffar Baloch: Balochistan's Burden...

Bomb in Islamabad market kills at least 21

Associated Press in Islamabad

Visit The Guardian for full story and links: Bomb in Islamabad market kills at least 21

A bomb has ripped through a fruit and vegetable market on the outskirts of Islamabad killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens more in a new attack in the Pakistani capital, which until recently had remained relatively removed from the shootings and bombings that plague other parts of the country.

A separatist group from the ethnic Baluch minority claimed responsibility for the attack. Baluch separatists have been fighting a bloody insurgency for years in their heartland in the southwest of the country.

The bomb went off as morning shoppers were buying supplies at the outdoor market. Police quickly cordoned off the scene, which was littered with shoes and prayer caps.

One fruit trader, Afzal Khan, said he saw dismembered victims. "People were dying. People were crying. People were running," he said.

The approximately 5kg of explosives were hidden in a fruit carton, said a police official. Police and officers from the bomb disposal squad scanned the area for more devices.

The market is located near a makeshift camp for people displaced from fighting in Pakistan's northwest, as well as refugees from Afghanistan. It is also next to a supermarket frequented by middle class families.

"The people were torn apart. Their body parts scattered," said Abdul Jalil, frantically searching for his brother who works at the market. Mobile phone calls to his brother were not going through.

"Who are these people killing innocent people? What do they get out of it? God will not forgive them."

While large bombings happen frequently in Pakistani cities such as the northwestern city of Peshawar or the southern port city of Karachi, they are relatively rare in the capital, which is home to diplomats, generals and top government officials.

The toll was reported by two nearby hospitals. The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences received 19 dead from the blast and 56 wounded, according to emergency room doctor Zulfikar Ghauri. Two bodies and 31 wounded were taken to Holy Family hospital in the nearby city of Rawalpindi said Tahir Sharif, a doctor there.

The symbolism of having such a deadly attack in Islamabad – even in an area on the edge of the city and rarely frequented by its elite – is a blow to a Pakistani government trying to increase foreign investment and project an air of security in the capital.

For Islamabad, it was the most deadly day since a 3 March attack on a court complex killed 11 people. That attack was claimed by a little-known splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban called Ahrar-ul-Hind.

The Pakistani Taliban quickly denied any involvement in Wednesday's incident, saying in a statement that they were sticking to a previously agreed ceasefire.

Instead, a spokesman for the United Baluch Army claimed responsibility in a telephone call to an Associated Press reporter. The group, which emerged about a year and a half ago, is one of the newer factions among Baluch separatists fighting since the mid-2000s.

The spokesman, Mureed Baluch, said the attack was in retaliation for the ongoing arrest and killings of their associates by the security forces in southwest Baluchistan province.

Baluchistan is Pakistan's largest province and is plagued by violence from various factions. Separatists often attack the Pakistani military or other government targets. Sunni Muslim extremists have often targeted members of the Shia Muslim minority. Members of the Afghan Taliban fighting across the border in their homeland are also believed to be living in the province.