A car bomb tore through a crowded market full of women's clothing shops and general market stalls in Peshawar, killing 95 people.
The explosion came about three hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad, just 100 miles away.
Tensions have soared across Pakistan following a spike in Taliban-mediated violence killing more than 240 people this month alone. Peshawar, a gateway to the northwest tribal belt where the Pakistani Army is on a major offensive against Taliban militants, is a perpetual target for violence. But now, as the line between military and civilian targets blurs, the bloodshed has shaken even the most resilient Pakistanis.
It has shattered any illusion that the Pakistani army is successfully quashing the Taliban. And if Wednesday's strikes tell us anything, it is that there is much more violence to come. Pakistan is at war, and civilians are no longer immune.
The recent string of bloody attacks began on October 12, when a suicide car bombing targeting Pakistani troops killed 41 people in a market in northwest Shangla district, a Pashto-speaking area in the Swat Valley.
The Pakistani army claimed it had retaken the area from militants, but the bombing proved otherwise. Two weeks later, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a U.N. aid agency in Islamabad, killing five staffers.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of more violence unless the army ended its current offensive in the tribal areas of South Waziristan. It made good on its promise on October 10 when militants raided the army headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi.
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said during a press conference in Rawalpindi that the attacks were meant to force the government to "reconsider its decision to go after the Taliban in their heartland on the Afghan border."
Now, the Taliban are threatening to unleash an even grander assault. "The more Taliban feel hemmed in by the Pakistani military presence around South Waziristan, where the Taliban has strongholds, the more they fight back like cornered animals," explains Haroon Rashid of BBC Urdu.