News24

22 dead in Pakistan gas cylinder blast

2013-01-10 20:09

Peshawar - A gas cylinder exploded at a religious gathering in Pakistan's north-western Swat valley on Thursday, killing 22 people and wounding more than 80, officials said.

The explosion took place at a weekly meeting of the local Tableeghi Jamaat (preachers' party) at its centre on the outskirts of Mingora, the main town in the district, regional police chief Akhtar Hayat said.

"According to initial reports it was a gas cylinder blast," another senior police officer Gul Afzal Afridi told AFP.

"The death toll has gone up to 22," local administration chief Kamran Khan told reporters at the Tableeghi centre.

He said 87 people were wounded, 20 of them are in serious condition.

Police officer Afridi, who had earlier put the toll at 13, confirmed the new casualty figures.

There were around 1 500 people listening to the speech of a Muslim cleric at the centre when the cylinder exploded, he said.

A bomb disposal unit has been summoned to investigate though there was no sign of any explosives at the blast site, he added.

Internationally renowned Pakistani school girl campaigner Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head in Mingora last October in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

She is now recovering and undergoing further treatment in Britain.

The Pakistani Taliban seized much of Swat during a 2007-2009 insurgency, but the army declared the region back under control after an offensive in July 2009.