LAHORE, Pakistan – Twin blasts at a market in eastern Pakistan killed up to 48 people as militants struck back amid an army offensive against the Taliban, but the country’s president said the bombings would not deter the government in its campaign.
Meanwhile, a U.S. missile strike early this morning killed at least three people in a troubled northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, two intelligence officials said.
More than 100 people were also injured late Monday in the bombings in Lahore. The bombs ripped through a market popular with women around 9 p.m. local time, igniting a massive fire.
Earlier Monday, a suicide bomber killed 10 people outside a courthouse in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
President Asif Ali Zardari said such cowardly acts of terrorism would not deter the government’s resolve to fight terrorism.
Monday’s attack in Lahore was timed to take place when the Moon Market, which sells women’s clothing, shoes and cosmetics, was at its busiest.
The blasts came within 30 seconds of each other, leaving dozens of cars and shops ablaze late into the night.
Many victims were women and children, including a dead 2-year-old, a police officer said.
Most of the militant attacks in recent weeks have been directed at security forces, though several have targeted crowded public spaces such as markets, apparently to create public anger and increase pressure on the government to halt its offensive on the Taliban in South Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan where al-Qaida has also proliferated.
The attacks by militants have killed more than 400 people since the beginning of October, including 105 in a Peshawar market frequented by women. That attack occurred while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was visiting Pakistan.
Lahore is Pakistan’s second-largest city. By attacking Lahore, militants are bringing their war to the heart of Pakistan.