The anguished wails of trapped women and children echoed in the blazing rubble of a once bustling marketplace.
As the death toll of Wednesday’s car bomb in the northwestern Pakistani city reached 117, it became clear that women have now become key targets in the militants’ twisted strategy of creating mayhem across this volatile, nuclear-armed country.
Such was the revulsion at the deaths of so many women and children that even the Taliban and Al-Qaeda tried to distance themselves from the atrocity, although few believe their denial of responsibility.
The bomb was planted in a pick-up truck in the narrow lanes between the Meena and Koochi bazaars, famous for their women’s dresses, cosmetics, jewellery and household items.
Its victims included brides preparing for their weddings and housewives browsing through the latest fashions.