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Authorities aren't sure who set off the blast at an outdoor market in Islamabad.

Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A bomb ripped through a fruit and vegetable market on the outskirts of Islamabad on Wednesday, killing 22 people and wounding dozens more in a new attack in the Pakistani capital, which until recently had remained relatively removed from shootings and bombings that plague other parts of the country.

Confusion over who carried out the morning blast underlined one of Pakistan's central woes - the number of armed groups waging violence for multiple motives.

The Pakistani Taliban, which has led a campaign of bombings and shootings for years aimed at toppling the government, denied responsibility, saying in a statement that it is adhering to a cease-fire for negotiations. Offshoots of the group have carried out at least one attack during the cease-fire.

A separatist group of ethnic Baluch claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack. Baluch separatists have been fighting a bloody insurgency for years in their heartland in the southwest of the country. They have rarely struck as far away as the capital, and if they were to blame, it could represent a worrying expansion of their reach.

But the Interior Ministry called the Baluch claim "ludicrous" and said initial investigations did not suggest the group was involved. In a statement, it said the incident "pointed in another direction" but did not elaborate.

The bomb, hidden in a carton of fruit, went off as morning shoppers were buying supplies at the outdoor market. Witnesses said they saw dismembered bodies after the blast sent boxes of produce flying, leaving the bloodstained ground littered with fruits and vegetables, shoes, clothes and Muslim prayer caps.

"People were dying. People were crying. People were running," one fruit trader, Afzal Khan, said.

The market is on Islamabad's edges, near a makeshift camp for people displaced from fighting in Pakistan's northwest, as well as refugees from Afghanistan. A nearby supermarket is frequented by middle-class families. The Interior Ministry said 22 people were killed and 83 were wounded in the blast.