04/09/2014, 00.00
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Islamabad, market place bombing leaves 23 dead and 39 wounded

The bomb was placed inside a crate of fruit. The explosion took place in the early hours of the morning. Eyewitnesses speak of "blood and body parts scattered everywhere". Perpetrators and target of attack unknown. Fragile truce between the government and Taliban during peace talks expires tomorrow.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 23 died and 39 people were injured in the powerful explosion that hit a fruit and vegetables market in the suburbs of Islamabad this morning. The explosion took place as traders prepared their stalls, waiting for customers . The scene that presented itself to the rescuers was terrible, clothes soaked with blood and body parts scattered in a radius of tens of meters across the market area, located in the border area between Pakistan and the capital and twin city, Rawalpindi. According to preliminary reports, the bomb was placed inside a crate containing guava fruit .

Today's attack follows another bombing yesterday in Balochistan province in the south- west of the country, carried out by separatist guerrillas, which resulted in 13 dead and dozens wounded. Excluding one episode of violence last month, experts point out that attacks have been rare in the capital in recent months. Local sources speak of " human body parts scattered everywhere." The police sifted through all the crates of fruits and vegetables, to exclude the presence of other devices . "The whole area was covered in blood" said another trader.

Rawalpindi is home to the headquarters of the powerful Pakistani army and in the past there had been attacks close by, seen a warning to the soldiers engaged in the war against the Taliban. However, in this case, the explosion occurred in an area far from army buildings, as such the real targets of the bombers remains unknown.

In recent weeks, the Pakistani government has launched a series of peace talks with the Taliban, in an attempt to break the spiral of violence and terror that has battered the country in recent years. Bombs and attacks that have targeted government buildings, military barracks, police training centers, markets and places of worship, including churches and mosques. The Islamist guerrillas had announced a ceasefire, which should remain in place until tomorrow, April 10. However, there are dozens of the militant groups operating in the area and who are not interested in an agreement with the central authorities . Moreover, in the context of the negotiations, the Taliban are demanding the release of hundreds of prisoners, the withdrawal of the army from tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and the introduction of Islamic law (sharia).

With a population of more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, the second largest Muslim nation after Indonesia. About 80 per cent of Muslims are Sunni, whilst Shias are 20 per cent. Hindus are 1.85 per cent, followed by Christians (1.6 per cent) and Sikhs (0.04 per cent). Violence against ethnic and religious minorities is commonplace across the country, with Shia Muslims and Christians as the main target, with things getting worse.


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