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Powerful car bomb kills at least 90 in Peshawar market

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Huge blast in Pakistan
  • Explosion hits bustling marketplace in Peshawar killing at least 90 people
  • Blast injures more than 200 people, according to hospital staff
  • Incident comes as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Islamabad

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A car packed with 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of explosives detonated at Peshawar's Meena Bazaar Wednesday, killing at least 90 people and injuring more than 200 others, according to a government official.

Most of the dead were women who were shopping in the labyrinth of stores in the Peepal Mandi section of the city, according to North West Frontier Province's information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

The flames from the explosion sparked fires at stores selling highly flammable fabric, causing some of the casualties, Hussain said.

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The massive casualties prompted a state of emergency at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, which is appealing to other medical centers -- and to the public -- to donate blood, hospital officials said.

The attack is the deadliest ever carried out in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province.

It coincides with a visit to Pakistan by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Speaking at a press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Clinton condemned the attack, saying the militants behind the deadly strike were "on the losing side of history."

Read more about Clinton's comments on blast

Wednesday's attack is the second strike on a Peshawar marketplace this month.

A suicide car bombing on October 9 in Khyber Bazaar, a commercial hub in Peshawar, killed at least 49 people and injured 135 others.

And, just last Friday, a car bomb exploded outside a banquet hall in Peshawar, wounding at least 15 people.

The North West Frontier Province is bearing the brunt of the massive civilian displacement from Pakistan's military offensive in the neighboring tribal region along the Afghan border.

More than 180,000 civilians have fled to North West Frontier Province from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to the United Nations.

Pakistan's military offensive is currently focused on South Waziristan, where the government believes the Pakistani Taliban has masterminded numerous attacks, including the October 10 siege of Pakistan's army headquarters in Rawalpindi, outside Islamabad.

That siege and other attacks outside the tribal region have raised concerns about the ability of government forces to maintain control.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation this month providing an additional $7.5 billion in assistance to Pakistan over the next five years. The White House is working on a comprehensive review of U.S. strategy in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

Journalists Nazar al Islam and Nasir Habib and CNN's Samson Desta and Reza Sayah contributed to this report.

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