At Least 64 Killed in Pakistan’s Northwest

by Jason Ditz, September 06, 2008

Updated 9/7 9:35 AM EST

With newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari’s victory barely in the books, a surge of violence across Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province emerged as the first pressing task for him to attempt to tackle. A massive suicide bombing and clashes killed at least 64, and left scores of others injured.

The suicide blast occurred when a car loaded with explosives rammed a police post along the road between Kohat and Peshawar, at precisely the same time the NWFP assembly was casting its votes for President Zardari earlier today. 35 people were confirmed killed so far in the blast and 81 others were injured. The blast occurred just 12 miles from the Assembly, and reportedly rocked buildings in a radius at least that large.

It is as yet unclear who is responsible for the blast, but it comes just one day after an offensive by Pakistani forces in Bajaur. The Tehreek-e Taliban spokesman in the area insisted that his forces had thus far abided by the Ramadan ceasefire, but promised that his forces would “soon take action against those involved in attacks on Taliban fighters”.

Meanwhile, clashes between militants and locals in Swat Valley had killed a total of 20 locals and at least 9 militants. An undetermined number of others were also reported injured in the clashes. 20 residents were also said captured by the militants, and spokesman Muslim Khan said they had “arrested several people and impounded their two vehicles”.

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