SARGODHA, Nov 1: A suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a PAF bus, killing seven officers of the Pakistan Air Force and three civilians on the Faisalabad Road on Thursday morning. Twenty-eight people suffered injuries.

The bus was carrying PAF staff from Mushaf Mir Airbase to Kirana Ammunition Depot when the bomber struck the bus at about 6.45a.m.

Five PAF officers and three civilian employees died on the spot and two injured officers died in the Sargodha CMH.

Sources said that 50 PAF personnel and civilians were in the bus which was badly damaged in the attack. The injured were taken to the PAF hospital and CMH. Later, five of them were airlifted to the Rawalpindi CMH.

Limbs of the victims were scattered all around in an area of about 100 yards. The explosion was so loud that it was heard about five to six kilometres away from the site of the blast.

Some of the deceased were identified as Flying Officers Sabir Wali, Mohammad Shoaib, Bilal Elahi, Zeinuddin and Kamran Mushtaq and civilian employees Mohammad Anwar, Mohammad Ilyas and Salamat Maseeh. The names of the two officers who died at the Sargodha CMH could not be ascertained.

The injured who were taken to the Rawalpindi CMH were identified as Flying Officers Babar Ali, Aamer Sharif, Umair Khan Khatak, Bashir Ahmed and Saad Rafi.

A large number of people from the area reached the place and tried to take the injured to hospitals but PAF authorities and personnel of other law-enforcement agencies stopped them and moved the injured to the PAF hospital and the CMH.

The site of the attack was immediately cordoned off by law-enforcement agencies personnel.

DPO Waseem Ahmad Sial and Regional Police Officer Hamid Mukhtar Gondal reached the place along with bomb experts and collected evidence from the site.

PAF security staff did not allow even police high-ups to enter the PAF hospital where a high alert had been declared after the blast. Regional Police officer Chaudhry Hamid Mukhtar Gondal described it as a suicide attack.

Funeral prayers for the victims were offered at Mushaf Mir Airbase in the afternoon.

District Police Officer Waseem Ahmad Khan Sial said that the head of the bomber had been found and appeared to be a local.

It was the second suicide attack in Sargodha. In an attack in the Police Lines area in mid-August, an ASI and two policemen were killed.

AFP ADDS: “It was a suicide attack and the target was the bus which was carrying the air force officials and civilians,” chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP.