PESHAWAR - The unabated wave of terrorism continues in Peshawar as 19 more people were killed and 43 others injured on Friday when a powerful bomb exploded in a bus carrying government employees near Gulbela area in the city outskirts.
The bus going from Peshawar to Charsadda was hired by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take staff home from work. KP police chief Nasir Durrani told reporters the remote-controlled bomb, weighing six to eight kilograms, was planted at the back of the bus, which was reduced to a tangled mess of twisted metal by the force of the blast.
Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Zahirul Islam confirmed that 19 persons were killed and 43 others were injured. He said that the main target of the blast were government employees who were on way to Chrasadda after their duty.
Eyewitness said the blast came at 12:25pm when the bus reached near Gulbela area, 15 kilometres from Peshawar city. The explosion was so powerful it threw victims’ bodies clear of the vehicle and onto the roadside. Particularly, those on rooftop suffered badly and fell into the fields along the road. Several dead bodies were badly mutilated and went beyond recognition while some of the injured and dead were hardly retrieved from the tangled vehicle. The road was littered with human flesh and blood.
“The sound of the blast is still ringing in my head, I cannot explain it in words,” Lal Zada, 40, a government employee whose right leg was severely wounded, told foreign news agency AFP. Lal Zada lost his brother-in-law, also a government employee in the blast. “All of a sudden, there was a huge explosion. The bus shattered and something hit me in my leg and I fell to the floor. It was horrible,” he said.
There were difficulties in relief activities as the vehicles of Rescue 1122 and Edhi ambulances reached a bit late and most of the injured succumbed to their injuries on way to hospital. Emergency was declared in Peshawar’s main Lady Reading Hospital and Districts Headquarter Hospital Charsadda.
Horrific scenes were seen in Lady Reading Hospital where nine dead bodies and 32 injured were taken. The injured screamed for help in the emergency unit while doctors and medics were seen rushing in and outside the wards, providing medical treatment and wheeling the critically injured to the operating theatre.
Those killed included: Amir son of (S/O) Nasir, Gulab Said S/O Babo Khan, Haroon S/O Shah Muhammad, Imdad Ali, resident of Gulbela, Sher Zaman S/O Azizur Rahman, Zahidullah S/O Zaman Khan. Other dead were yet to be identified.
The injured included Abdullah, Amjad Ali, Astam Khan, Azeem Khan, Bilal Khan, Faisal Amin, Fazalur Raham, Fazal Wahid Gul Rose, Hidayatullah, Ibrahim, Inamullah, Jehangir, Kaleemullah, Lal Zada, Mohib Ali, Naheed, Naila, Noor Rehman, Sahib Gul, Sikandar, Tariq, Umara Khan, Wali Muhammad and Asia.
Around 14 injured and seven dead bodies were brought to district Head Quarter Hospital Charsssada where the injured were provided emergency and medical aid while the dead bodies were handed over to the heirs. The injured also included two woman and one school teacher of government high school Kakshal No-4.
The provincial capital Peshawar has long been a flashpoint for local Taliban insurgency targeting government officials, security forces and ordinary civilians. A near-identical attack on a government staff bus in another Peshawar suburb in June last year killed 19 people.
A double suicide bombing on a church in the city on Sunday killed 82 people, an attack that horrified even a nation used to a daily diet of blasts and shootings, and cast doubt on proposed talks with the Pakistani Taliban.
Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s main political parties backed the idea floated several times by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of peace talks with the militants, especially the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has led a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state and citizens in recent years.
But a series of attacks since then, including the killing of a senior army commander, have led many to question the strategy. The TTP has denied it was behind the church bombing, but peace agreements with them in the past have quickly fallen apart.