February 3, 2014
A cinema in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar was struck by two grenade blasts on Sunday, killing at least five people and wounding over 30 others, local police sources said. The blasts occurred amid fears that armed groups would use violence to derail plans to hold talks with the Pakistani Taliban.
The explosions took place in the Picture House, as it is known locally, in Qissa Khawani Bazaar. At the time of the attack, 90 to 100 people were believed to be inside, said Faisal Mukhtar, Peshawar city police superintendent.
Mukhtar said that a stampede of frightened movie goers followed the explosions and was responsible for many of the injuries.
“We were watching the film at the time, and suddenly the film stopped, and after some time the film started again. As it started again, suddenly the blast occurred and we tried to run outside,” Shafi Ullah, wounded in the attack, said.
“As we reached the veranda outside, another blast occurred there, and we rushed towards the hospital. I was not aware where I got the wound in my body.”
Bomb-disposal staff confirmed that two grenades were thrown by people sitting at the back of the cinema.
Jamil Shah, a spokesman for Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, said three dead bodies and 31 injured people had so far been taken to the facility. Two of the injured later died in the hospital.
The death toll is expected to rise because of the number of people inside the cinema at the time of the blasts.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Peshawar is the main city of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is no stranger to violence.
The neighborhood was the target of a bombing last September that left at least 40 people dead.
Sunday’s attack happened at a time when the government of Pakistan has announced the formation of a committee to hold talks with the Pakistani Taliban.
“There are fears in Pakistan that as the prospect for talks improve, there would be attacks to sabotage the peace talks.”