PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Pakistan's troubled northwest tribal region near the Afghan border Monday, killing 17 people and wounding more than 40 others, officials said.
The bomb went off near the women's waiting area of a bus stop close to the office of one of the Khyber tribal area's top political officials, said Hidayat Khan, a local government official. It was unclear if the office was the target, he added.
The dead included five boys and two women, said Abdul Qudoos, a doctor at a hospital in Jamrud town, where the attack occurred. At least 44 people were wounded, he said.
The explosives were packed in a small white car parked in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, said Shireen Afridi, who was nearby when the bomb exploded.
"There was fire in which children burned, women burned, poor Afghan people burned, and it caused a lot of destruction," said Afridi.
TV footage showed several cars and shops in the market that were badly damaged. Residents threw buckets of water on burning vehicles as rescue workers transported the wounded to the hospital.
The market was close to the office of the assistant political agent for Khyber, said Khan, who works in the office. Initial reports wrongly indicated the women's waiting area was for the political office, not the bus stop.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Khyber is home to various Islamist militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, who have waged a bloody insurgency against the government for the past few years.
Also on Monday, Taliban militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at an army convoy in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing three soldiers and wounding three others, said Nisar Ahmad, a local government official.
The soldiers were escorting a polio vaccination team outside the town of Lakki Marwat when the attack occurred, said Wazir Khan, a local resident.
The Taliban has spoken out against polio vaccination in recent months, claiming the health workers are acting as spies for the United States and the vaccine itself causes harm.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman in the South Waziristan tribal area, Asim Mehsud, claimed responsibility in a telephone call to the Associated Press. "These polio drops are a deadly American campaign to poison us," he said.
In the southern city of Karachi, an unknown gunman shot and killed a Pakistani working with the World Health Organization's anti-polio campaign, said Qamar Ahmed, a police officer.
Elsewhere on Monday, gunmen in the southwest killed a provincial government spokesman and two nearby police officers in an apparent sectarian attack, police said.
The attackers shot dead Khadim Hussain Noori in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, said police official Hamid Shakeel. Noori was the provincial spokesman and also a Shiite Muslim.
As the gunmen were speeding away on a motorcycle, they killed two policemen and wounded a third, said Shakeel.