A bomb explosion on Sunday killed at least 33 people in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said -- the third deadly strike to hit the city in the last week.

The blast took place in the busy Kissa Khwani market in Peshawar, gateway to the troubled tribal regions which are infested with Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants.

"The blast killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 80 others," top local administration official Sahebzada Muhammad Anis told AFP.

An official at Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital, Jameel Shah, also confirmed the new toll.

Local officials said the blast took place near a police station but they did not initially believe the station was the intended target.

"Police station does not seem to be the target as it was away from the attack site," bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik said.

He said, "It looks like the market was the target."

He told AFP the evidence suggested it was a remote controlled bomb.

"In fact, the whole car, which had been parked along the roadside, was converted into a remote controlled bomb," he said.

Sunday's attack was the third major bombing to strike Peshawar and its suburbs in the past seven days.

Last Sunday a twin suicide attack at a Peshawar church killed 82 people, triggering countrywide protests by the Christian community and members of the civil society demanding better protection for Pakistan's minorities.

On Friday, a powerful bomb tore through a bus carrying government employees on the edge of Peshawar city, killing 18 people.

Peshawar runs into the semi-autonomous tribal belt that US officials consider a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and insurgents fighting both in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.

The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction has led a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state in recent years, carrying out hundreds of attacks on security forces and government targets.

Two weeks ago, Pakistan's main political parties backed the idea of peace talks with the militants, floated several times by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

But a series of attacks since then, including the killing of a senior army commander, have led many to question the strategy.

Pakistan is on the frontline of the US-led war on Al-Qaeda and since July 2007 has been gripped by a local Taliban-led insurgency, concentrated largely in the northwest.

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