NOWSHERA: At least 18 people were killed and 45 others were injured when a suicide bomber attacked an army-run bakery on the Mall Road in Nowshera Cantonment on Sunday night.
The condition of 12 of the injured people was said to be serious.
According to a police official who refused to identify himself, those killed in the attack included the wife of an army major, his son and a daughter.
The blast caused a massive fire in the bakery and gas cylinders kept there also caught fire and started exploding. A number of adjacent buildings, a restaurant and some shops also caught fire.
Bodies of most of the victims were charred beyond recognition.
According to bomb disposal squad personnel, the bomber appeared to be teenager. His head had been found in the debris of the bakery.
They said that seven to eight kilograms of explosives had been used in the bombing which took place at around 8.45pm. Of the 18 people killed in the bombing and the resultant fire, only three bodies could be identified — Kamran, Sajjad Hussain and six-year-old girl Wafa.
Some of those injured in the blast included Mohammad Sharif, Arshad, Imran, Captain Hasnat, Mohammad Irshad, Adnan Sharif, Zaman Sharif, Luqman Sharif, Faizan Ali Shah, Amjad, Ibrahim, Umar Quresh, Minhajullah Malik, Bilal, Ibrahim , Asadullah, Abdullah, Shahan and Mohammad Imran.
According to witnesses, the fire gutted the bakery, a restaurant and some cosmetic shops because the fire brigade engines reached there quite late.
Officials said that most of the injured had been taken to the Combined Military Hospital where nobody was allowed, causing confusion among people who wanted information about the people killed and injured.
“I was in the bakery doing my work when I heard a big blast and soon a huge fire engulfed the place,” said bakery employee Imran Khan.
District Police Officer Quraish Khan earlier said that seven people had been killed and several others injured.
A fire-fighter told this correspondent that he had seen two bodies inside the building after extinguishing the fire.
AGENCIES ADD: “We have confirmed 18 dead,” Turk Ali Shah, a police spokesman in Nowshera, said. He said 35 people were wounded.
Zakaullah Khan, the city’s top government official, said the death toll could rise as many wounded were in critical condition.
The responsibility of the attack was claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.
“It was a remote control bomb which was planted by our men,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in a phone call from an undisclosed location.