Official: Explosion kills 10 in central Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — A government official says at least 10 people have been killed and 25 wounded in an explosion in central Pakistan.

The blast ripped through a market near the home of a politician in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan on Tuesday.

It was the latest in a series of suicide and other explosions that have killed more than 500 people in Pakistan since October. The bloodshed has been blamed on Islamist militants retaliating for an army offensive against the Taliban in the country’s northwest.

Punjab province Law Minister Rana Sanaullah gave the casualty tolls.

Local commissioner Hasan Iqbal said Tuesday’s explosion appeared to be a car bomb.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — An explosion ripped through a market near the home of a politician in central Pakistan on Tuesday, wounding at least a dozen people and leaving many trapped under rubble. Several were feared dead.

The blast in Dera Ghazi Khan was the latest in a series of suicide and other explosions that have killed more than 500 people in Pakistan since October. The bloodshed has been blamed on Islamist militants retaliating for an army offensive against the Taliban in the country’s northwest.

Local commissioner Hasan Iqbal said Tuesday’s explosion appeared to be a car bomb.

It left a massive crater and was heard from a half-a-mile (kilometer) away, he said. The home of Zulfikhar Khosa, senior adviser to the chief minister of Punjab province, was badly damaged in the blast, as were several shops in the market.

“It is terrorist activity,” said Iqbal, who said a dozen wounded people were shifted to hospitals.

Khosa was not believed to be at the house at the time of the explosion.

Raza Khan, a local resident at the scene, said people were panicking.

“The whole market has collapsed,” he told The Associated Press by phone. “There is smoke and people running here and there.”

Islamist militants have staged several attacks in the eastern Punjab province to illustrate their reach across the country, far beyond the northwest tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

Several hard-line religious schools operate in Dera Ghazi Khan area. The town also has experienced sectarian attacks pitting Sunni and Shiite Muslims against each other.

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