PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A car packed with explosives blew up in a refugee camp Thursday, killing 13 people in an attack that underscored the intensity of the conflict between the government and militants in northwestern Pakistan where refugees are sometimes caught in the middle of the fighting.
The Taliban have been waging an insurgency against the government in an attempt to establish an Islamic state and end Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States in fighting militancy.
The blast occurred in Jalozai camp, about 19 miles southwest of Peshawar, one of three camps in Pakistan for people displaced by the fighting in the northwest. Militants often do not want residents to flee an area of conflict, partly because it deprives them of a civilian population where they can hide and undermines their assertion that they have local support.
In addition to the 13 killed, another 25 people were wounded in the blast that occurred just as hundreds of people lined up to get food, police officials said.
‘‘It was very terrible, very terrible,’’ said Mumtaz Bangash, an official with one of the aid groups who was working in an office about 30 yards from where the vehicle exploded. ‘‘We were very near. It was very loud. I have seen so many injured people.’’
Most of the those hit in the attack were from the Bajur and Khyber tribal areas along the Afghan border, said police officer Mohammad Zahid. The army has carried out operations against the Pakistani Taliban in both areas.
Among the dead were a security guard and an employee of a Pakistani aid group who were walking by when the bomb exploded, said Faiz Muhammed, who runs Khyber Paktunkhwa province’s programs for displaced people. The others were camp residents.
Muhammed said that despite the blast, he and his staff would continue helping people at the camp, and he called on aid groups to increase assistance.
‘‘We need to show these people that we will not be deterred,’’ he said.
Jalozai, which is like a small city with a population of about 57,000 refugees, is run by the Pakistani government with help from various international aid agencies.
Many of the refugees get rations from the UN World Food Program, which feeds about 1 million people a month at Jalozai and other distribution points across the northwest.
Jean-Luc Siblot, the program’s country director, said the organization would temporarily suspend its operations while discussions continue with the government on how to secure the food distribution centers. But he said there was ‘‘no question’’ that the World Food Program would resume operations soon.