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12 killed in suicide bombing at Pakistani market

A local mayor who had defied the Taliban is killed along with 11 others. The attack is the latest in a series of militant strikes as Pakistan attempts to crush the Taliban in South Waziristan.

November 09, 2009|Zulfiqar Ali and Alex Rodriguez

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN, AND ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — A suicide bomber attacked a livestock market in the suburbs of the violence-racked northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Sunday, killing 12 people, including a mayor who had opposed the Taliban.

Abdul Malik, mayor of the village of Adazai, was with his bodyguards at the market when the bomber struck. Peshawar police official Sahibzada Muhammad Anees said Malik was the target.

Malik, who had survived previous attempts on his life by the Taliban, had recently organized a tribal militia to keep militants from the neighboring Khyber region out of his village, 10 miles south of Peshawar.

"I saw the mayor accompanied by armed guards in the market when the explosion took place," said Imtiaz Khan, a resident who suffered wounds to his left leg in the attack. "His bodyguards tried to overcome the bomber before the blast."

Police said 35 people were injured in the explosion. Eight of the injured were in critical condition. Jafar Shah, who buys and sells cattle at the market, said Malik should have known that he was a potential target and was endangering the lives of others by appearing at the market.

"Malik was responsible for the blood bath," said Shah, who suffered a gash to his shoulder. "He should not have come to the market because he was under threat, and everybody knows the Taliban were pursuing him to eliminate him."

Early today, a suicide bomber killed a motorcycle rickshaw driver and a police officer in Peshawar. Police said the bomber was a passenger in the rickshaw and detonated the explosives as the police officer approached. Five others were wounded.

The attacks were the latest in a series of strikes by Taliban militants in retaliation for a large-scale military offensive Pakistani troops are carrying out against the Taliban in South Waziristan, the militant group's primary stronghold along the Afghan border.

Military officials say troops have much of South Waziristan under their control. However, claims by the Pakistani army cannot be independently verified.

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alex.rodriguez@latimes.com

Ali is a special correspondent.

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