PESHAWAR, April 13: Nine people were killed and 10 others injured when a van carrying passengers was blown up near Peshawar’s Mattani Bazaar on Saturday.
The van was going from the Scheme Chowk to Sharikera, an outlying village. The van used to run daily on that route. According to police, a boy had put “some stuff” on the roof before stepping off the van a few hundred metres from Mattani Bazaar.
The worst sufferers were passengers sitting on the rear seats. The driver and the cleaner remained unhurt. The explosion scattered human flesh and mangled remains of the van over a large area.
Five of the dead were identified as Hikmat Khan, Misal Khan, Ishaq Khan, Shehbaz and Mohammad Amin.
People living nearby rushed to the place and took part in shifting the injured to hospitals. Four out of the 10 people admitted to the Lady Reading Hospital were in critical condition.
It was the day’s second blast in Peshawar and the third in two days. The other blast on Saturday occurred inside the Badbher police station. However, no one was injured.
Police said the explosive device was seized during a raid and that it exploded due to short circuiting.
On Friday an explosion rocked a hospital near Mattani Bazar, but fortunately there were no fatalities.
An official of the bomb disposal unit told reporters that a time device weighing five kilograms was used in the attack on the van. Ball bearings hit passers-by as well as some nearby houses and shops.
Asal Khan, an injured passenger, told reporters from his hospital bed that the blast was so powerful that it numbed his hearing for some time. “I was sitting on the last seat of the van and can only recall that the vehicle had just crossed the Kohat Road bypass when the blast shook it,” he said.
Asad Khan, another injured, said he was walking home after closing his shop when the blast sowed panic in the area. He sustained multiple injuries. “I heard women in the van wailing, but was unable to help them,” he said.
Fehmida, an injured woman, was anxious for her son who was with her in the van. “I know nothing about the whereabouts of my son. Where is he now?” she asked a nurse.
AFP adds: An official, Imran Shahid, said that police were investigating the possibility of suicide bombing.
An intelligence official in the city said the attack might have been a reaction to the fresh military push in the Tirah valley of the Khyber Agency, where the army has been fighting Taliban and Lashkar-i-Islam militants.