PESHAWAR: At least nine passengers were killed and nine injured Saturday when a bomb ripped through a bus in a marketplace on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
According to police, the bomb exploded as the passenger coach through the Matni Bazar area.
Hospital officials confirmed nine people had been killed by the bombing.
“We received eight bodies, while one of the injured died during emergency treatment at the hospital,” said Shiraz, the emergency in-charge at the Lady Reading Hospital. “Nine people have been injured including a child and woman while four out of nine are stated to be critical.”
Bomb disposal official Abdul Haq said an estimated four to five kilograms of explosive material was used in a timed device planted on the roof of the vehicle.
Haq said the timed bomb was detonated as the bus reached Matni Bazar. The blast also destroyed a number of shops in the marketplace.
Eyewitnesses said the passenger coach was carrying about 18 passengers traveling from Scheme Chowk to Sherkara when the explosion ripped through the vehicle.
Senior Police official, Shafiullah Khan, said the blast destroyed the back of the bus and ripped the roof apart as it was traveling to Sherkara area near FR Peshawar.
The driver and cleaner of the vehicle, however, remained unhurt.
“We had boarded passengers from Scheme Chowk, mostly from the Adezai and Sherikara area, and when we reached Matni Bazar a huge explosion occurred and destroyed the vehicle,” said Jehangir, the driver.
“We don’t know what happened but we did not have anything in the coach which could have caused the blast…even the gas kits of the coach were also safe. We don’t know if anyone targeted the passengers,” he said.
Shafiullah Khan said that it was still unclear as to who the intended target of the attack was.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but militants waging an insurgency against the state often carry out bombings in the restive northwestern region.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), however, disassociated itself from the bombing.
“We have no involvement in this attack. As we said earlier, we will not be target public places where common people may be affected,” claimed Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban.
Earlier Saturday, militants blew up the election office of an independent candidate in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan agency, about 300 kilometres from Peshawar.
The attacks comes less than a month before general elections in Pakistan, scheduled for May 11, raising concerns for security during the historic polls – the first time that a democratically elected government in Pakistan would hand over power to a newly elected administration.