Peshawar, March 16 (IANS) A powerful bomb, detonated by a timing mechanism, ripped through a bus carrying government employees in Pakistan's Peshawar on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and causing injuries to another two dozen commuters
The attack took place on Peshawar's Sunehri Masjid road after the bus picked up government employees from Shergarh in Mardan and was transporting them to work in the city.
"The blast was caused by a timed-improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a tool box inside the bus," Superintendent of Police (SP) Cantonment Kashif Zulfiqar said.
"There were 40-50 people on the bus."
The bus was carrying employees of the Civil Secretariat and government officials coming from Mardan.
"The bus carrying government employees was targeted at at 7.55 a.m," DC Riaz Mehsud stated.
"The top part of the bus has blown off and is being cut to pull out the injured," an eyewitness told local Urdu tv.
"The bus carried on a few hundred yards after the explosion as the driver lost control of the vehicle," eyewitnesses said.
According to sources, 15 of the total number of injured people at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) were air force employees.
Residents of the area shifted the injured in their cars to LRH, The area was closed for traffic.
According to hospital reports, most of the dead and injured were from Malakand, Mardan and Charsadda.
Bomb disposal squad officials said 10 kg of explosives were planted on the bus and further investigations were underway.
"Emergency has been declared and all doctors have been called in to handle trauma," hospital spokesperson Jamil Shah said. Many of the wounded were in critical condition and the death toll could rise, he said.
"There are eight buses that come from different areas to Hayatabad, Peshawar. The route of this bus was Dargai-Khanmai-Charsadda-Motorway-Hayatabad" SP Zulfiqar said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack and expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the attack.
"These cowardly attacks cannot shatter our unflinching resolve against terrorism," Sharif said.
Further, the premier directed the concerned authorities to give the best treatment to those injured during the attack and also directed law enforcement agencies to hunt down those responsible for the attack.
The explosion came a day after the military top brass suggested publicly that the army was about to conclude the military offensive in North Waziristan's Shawal valley.
In January, the insurgency-ravaged province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa witnessed another A P S-style attack on Charsadda's Bacha Khan University, engineered by the mastermind of the horrific December 2014 massacre.
Since then, there have been numerous attacks targeting security forces' convoys and checkposts.
The most recent attack comes just days after a blast hit Charsadda's Shabqadar area, an attack claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jamatul Ahrar.
On the other hand, official reports claim there have been thousands of intelligence-based operations, and scores of militants have been arrested and eliminated as per the implementation of NAP. (IANS)