24 killed in Pakistan hotel bomb explosion
May 15, 2007 - 3:32:44 PM

Islamabad, May 15 - At least 24 people, including a child and two women, were killed and more than two dozen injured when a bomb exploded Tuesday in an Afghan-owned hotel in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, news reports said.

The blast ripped through the main dining hall of the Marhaba Hotel in the city centre. Most of the casualties were Afghans, eyewitnesses said.

'This was one of a series of bomb blasts aimed at disrupting peace and order in the province,' the education minister of the restive North-West Frontier Province, Fazal Ali, told the Aaj television channel.

It was not immediately clear if the blast was the result of a suicide attack or the detonation of a timed or remote-controlled device.

Television footage showed chaotic scenes as the dead and wounded were carried from the building through crowds of security forces and guests. City hospitals were placed on alert.

Hundreds of people were in the hall for lunch at the time of the explosion, which was so powerful it hurled bodies several metres away from the building. Pedestrians on the street and a rickshaw driver were among the killed.

Police cordoned off the blast site near the city's historic 17th century Mahabad Khan Mosque.

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