A car bomb ripped through a Pakistani bus station yesterday, killing 12 people, including four children, on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said.
The attack happened on the road toward the garrison city of Kohat near the lawless tribal belt, a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants blamed for violence plaguing both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“It was a car bomb blast. Twelve people have been killed and 32 injured,” senior police official Kalam Khan said.
Around a dozen passenger coaches were heavily damaged, with pieces of human flesh scattered and blood smeared on the ground.
At the main hospital in Peshawar, the wounded were crying and relatives of the dead sobbed over their bodies as doctors declared a state of emergency in a bid to save the most critically injured, a reporter said.
One doctor, Rahim Jan, said that 12 bodies had been brought into Lady Reading hospital and that 35 people were wounded.
“Several bodies are charred beyond recognition. Ten to 12 of the wounded are in a critical condition,” he said.
The dead included four children, said Zahir Shah, another health official in the city.
Dilawar Khan, 60, who was wounded in his left shoulder, said his 12-year-old son Abdullah was killed. He had been helping his father run his stall serving tea at the bus station while on a break from school.
“I was preparing tea for the drivers and my son was serving tea for some other drivers when the huge blast happened,” Khan said through his tears.
“Something like shrapnel hit me in the shoulder but I was conscious. Then I was brought to hospital and saw my son’s dead body. I’ve lost everything,” he said.
There was no claim of responsibility and the precise target was unclear, but attacks blamed on Taliban and other homegrown extremists opposed to the government’s support for the US war in Afghanistan are common.
“At the moment I can’t say what the exact target of the bomb attack was but all those killed were innocent civilians,” Mohammad Siraj, the top government official in Peshawar, told reporters.
Tahir Ayub, a senior police official, told reporters that most of those killed were passengers waiting to board coaches.
Bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik said 45kg of “good quality” explosives and mortar shells were packed into the car to maximize destruction when the timed device detonated.
It’s unclear why the bus terminal was targeted.
Additional reporting by AP