Blast in Pakistani City Kills 7, Wounds 42

A bomb exploded in a crowded market in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Friday, killing at least six people and wounding more than 40, police said.

The explosion occurred in the city's downtown district about 10 minutes before iftar, the time for breaking the daily fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, said police officer Zafar Khan said.

Six people in the street were killed and 42 wounded, including several who were taken to a hospital in serious condition, Khan said.

The blast sprayed body parts and debris across the street, which police pickup trucks immediately cordoned off. Police bomb disposal experts retrieved pieces of debris from the scene.

"After the explosion people all around the area were crying," said Habibullah Khan, an 18-yaer-old glass bangle vendor. "Then there were people lying in pools of blood. Debris was everywhere."

At the time of the blast, the street was crowded with shoppers making last-minute purchases of food for meals and shoes and jewelry for next week's three-day festival of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which was caused by a homemade bomb planted in a fruit cart left by the side of the road, said Mohammed Riffat Pasha, chief of police in the North West Frontier Province of which Peshawar is the capital.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao condemned the bombing as terrorism but would not speculate on who might have been behind it.

"Naturally, when innocent people are killed, its an act of terrorism," Sherpao told The Associated Press.

Twelve-year-old Shah Zarin, who was suffered a minor head wound from flying debris, said his father and a brother were also seriously hurt in the explosion.

"I was getting things for iftar. My father and brother were at the stall. They were near the scene of the explosion and were seriously hurt," Zarin said.

Peshawar is a conservative city located close to the Pakistan-Afghan border, where Al Qaeda and Taliban militants are believed to be at large.

Friday's attack was the deadliest of several apparently connected bombings that have hit the city in recent weeks. Police have revealed no details on who might be behind the blasts.

The violence, however, is a far cry from regular terrorist attacks in the city during the 1980s when Peshawar was a gathering point for Islamic fighters heading to then Soviet-occupied Afghanistan to wage jihad against Russian soldiers.