KHAR, July 26: Eleven people were killed and 23 others injured when an explosive-laden pick-up went off in a market in Salarzai tehsil of Bajaur tribal region on Thursday, witnesses and officials said.
At least 20 shops, five houses and several vehicles were destroyed as the bomb ripped through the busy market owned by former MNA Shahabuddin Khan who is chief of the Salarzai Qaumi Laskhar, the sources said.
Bajaur Levies officials said that lashkar’s leaders, who were in the area at the time of the incident, could be the target of the attack but they narrowly escaped.
“No eminent leader of the lashkar was killed or injured. The victims were common people who were purchasing items of daily use for Iftar and Sehr,” local resident Shajan Khan told Dawn.
“I was on my duty in the adjacent market when I heard a loud blast in the Pashat bazaar,” said Gul Wali, a volunteer of a peace committee. The explosion took place just as a pick-up entered the bazaar, he added.
An injured man, Sultan Khan, said he was in his shop when the bomb went off.
Shopkeepers, volunteers of the lashkar and other people began rescue work and were later joined by administration officials and Levies personnel.
Assistant Political Agent Tariq Khan said the injured were taken to the agency headquarters hospital in Khar. Several critically wounded people were later shifted to Peshawar.
The Khar hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr Riaz Khan, said three children aged between six and 11 were among the dead and five among the injured.
Some of the victims were identified as Ilyas Khan, Nizamuddin Khan, Asfandiar Khan, Reshima and Asad.
People thronged the hospital to donate blood.
The administration set up a committee to investigate the incident.
Bajaur Political Agent Sayed Abdul Jabar Shah held militants responsible for the attack.
However, a spokesman for the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Ihsanullah Ihsan, in a call to reporters said: “The TTP has no concern with the blast and it has never attacked common people and public places.”
AP adds: It was unclear whether the attack was a suicide bombing, or if the explosives were detonated by remote control, local official Jehangir Azam said.