PESHAWAR, Sept 27: Less than a week after a dastardly attack on a church which left over 80 people dead, a powerful time bomb ripped through a bus carrying government employees on Friday, killing 19 people and causing injuries to 42 men, women and children on Charsadda Road.

Peshawar SSP (operations) Najeeb-ur-Rehman said the bomb planted in the rear portion of the bus went off when it reached Gulbela area, about 15km northwest of Peshawar.

The blast damaged a number of nearby shops and doors and windows of several buildings. Some people working in nearby fields were hit by shrapnels.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IG Nasir Durrani told reporters that the bus was taking employees of civil secretariat to their villages in Charsadda district.

He said KP was playing the role of a frontline region in the war against terrorism and all segments of society would have to work together to root out the menace because the government and law-enforcement agencies on their own could not overcome the situation. He said police did not have the capacity to check everyone and everything.

Peshawar Commissioner Sahibzada Mohammad Anis told Dawn that terrorists had targeted secretariat employees.

Bomb Disposal Unit chief AIG Shafqat Malik said the high quality explosives weighing 12 to 15 kilograms had been packed in a bag.

Lady Reading Hospital’s spokesperson Syed Jamil Shah said that 10 bodies and 27 injured had been brought to the hospital where two of the injured died.

The rest of the bodies and the injured were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital in Charsadda. A woman was among the dead. Four of the injured were in critical condition.

Hazrat Bilal of Sherpao village, who was among the injured, told Dawn that he was going home after taking a test at the Computer Science Department of Peshawar University. “A woman boarded the bus and before she could find a seat the explosives went off. I was sitting in the front row but still I was injured. People were crying for help and many of them were lying on the road,” he said.

He said the bus was crowded and many passengers were sitting on the roof.

Sikandar, a student, said he had a throat problem and had come to the Lady Reading Hospital along with his mother, but was injured while going back home. “Where is my mother,” he repeatedly asked his relatives who told him she was in hospital and her condition was stable.

Inamullah Khan of Bajaur Agency, who teaches in Jamia Ahya-ul-Uloom in Parang village of Charsadda, said he and his student Qari Kaleemullah were walking on the road when the bomb exploded and they fell on the ground. “It was a huge blast,” he said, adding that local people gathered within minutes and shifted the bodies and the injured to hospitals.

He said most of the people had been taken to hospitals before the rescuers of Al-Khidmat, Edhi and Rescue 1122 reached the site.

On June 9 last year, 19 people were killed and dozens others injured in a bomb attack on a bus carrying government employees the same area.

Reuters adds: A spokesman for Ansarul Mujahideen, a group allied to but not part of the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the blast. Abu Baseer said that the attack was in retaliation for US drone strikes.

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