LANDI KOTAL, June 16: At least 23 people were killed and 62 others injured in a powerful bomb blast at a taxi stand in Landi Kotal bazaar in Khyber Agency on Saturday.

Adil Khan, a paint shop owner, told Dawn that he saw a man parking his double-cabin passenger pick-up truck outside a bakery near the stand. “The moment that person entered the bakery, we heard a deafening bang,” he said, adding he saw human flesh scattered all over the place.

Khasadar and Khyber Rifles cordoned off the place as shopkeepers pulled down shutters in panic. Khalilullah, a witness, said he heard a huge blast while he was at work in his shop in the Kacharo Kusa Street. “I saw a thick column of smoke engulf the place soon after the explosion.”

The blast caused a huge fire as two gas cylinders in the bakery also exploded.

Amjad khan, a Khasadar official, said several shops and vehicles were damaged and the task of retrieving the dead and injured was hampered by the raging fire.

Landi Kotal Hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Nazir Wazir said the army, Khyber Rifles, ICRC, Al Khidmat Foundation and Jamrud Civil hospital had helped shift the bodies and injured.

He said of the 62 injured who were brought to the Agency Headquarters Hospital (AHQ), 34 were referred to Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar, 11 admitted and the rest allowed to leave after first aid.

“We counted 19 bodies in the AHQ hospital, while another four succumbed to injuries in the Peshawar hospital,” he said. “Most of the dead and injured had head injuries,” he said.

The dead included two students of a school, while two other students of the same school were injured.

Landi Kotal Assistant Political Agent Khalid Mumtaz Kundi said four bodies were charred beyond recognition . “Almost all the dead were ordinary people and mostly belonged to poor families,” he said.

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