PESHAWAR - At least 40 persons, including 18 members of a single family, were killed and 100 others were injured in a powerful car bomb blast in front of Madina Hotel in the main Qissa Khwani Bazar on Sunday at 10:55am.
Police sources said it was not confirmed what the exact target of the blast which took place just a few yards from Khan Raziq police station. It was the most powerful blast among the last three attacks carried out in Peshawar.
The blast also jolted the surrounding areas of the city while its sound echoed in the far-flung areas of Peshawar. Besides human casualties, the blast damaged 28 shops, two pickups, one car, four rickshaws and seven motorcycles.
At least 18 members of a single family were also killed and seven others sustained critical injuries in the Qissa Khwani blast. The family had come here from Charsadda in connection with a wedding ceremony.
The entire Qissa Khwani Bazar looked like a battlefield; everywhere there was human flesh and blood. The blast caused fear and panic among the residents, people left their shops and businesses to take part in relief activities. Edhi ambulances and Rescue 1122 squad shifted the injured to various hospitals of the city.
Emergency was declared in all the three main hospitals of Peshawar; a huge rush was seen in Lady Reading Hospital where most of the victims were shifted.
Spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital, Jamil Shah, said 38 persons have been killed. In addition, 91 injured have been shifted to the LRH, he said.
Moving scenes were witnessed in the hospital; the relatives were wandering desperately in search of their near and dear ones.
Red alert was declared in Peshawar. A heavy contingent of police rushed to the blast site to cordon off the area. Police took the vehicle used for the blast into their control for investigation.
It was the third major incident in Peshawar. On last Sunday, two blasts targeted a church of Christian community, which killed 85 and injured 128 others. On September 26, a passenger coach carrying employees of Civil Secretariat was targeted in Gul Bela area of Peshawar, killing 19 Persons and injuring 44 others.
Additional inspector general, Bomb Disposal Squad, Shafqat Malik, said it was a high-intensity remote-controlled blast for which a vehicle, carrying 225kg explosives, was used.
Peshawar Commissioner Sahibzada Anees confirmed that the blast was a remote-controlled and its target was probably the police station. Provincial Health Minister Shaukat Yousufzai also said the police station was the main target.
Hundreds of shopkeepers of Qissa Khwani Bazar staged a protest, demanding protection of their lives and properties. They said the government which could not protect the masses had no right to rule.
Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan strongly condemned the Peshawar blast and assured the nation, especially the people of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, that the culprits would be punished. Khyber Pakhtunkhw Chief Minister Pervez Khattak also condemned the bomb blast and expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious human lives in the tragic incident. He directed the coalition government to move on an emergency basis to bolster the provincial security and intelligence setups. KPK Senior Minister for Finance Sirajul Haq visited Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar and enquired after the injured. He directed the hospital chief executive and doctors to extend every treatment facilities to the injured free of cost till their recovery.
MNA Ghulam Ahmad Bilour visited the blast site and condemned the brutal act of terrorism. He said militants were targeting innocent citizens, but the PTI chairman was demanding an office for them.
Agencies add: The Pakistani Tehrik-i-Taliban condemned the attack and denied any involvement.
Alamzeb Khan was working at a nearby tea stall when he felt the earth shake. The impact of the blast knocked him to the ground. “When I got up, everything was on fire. Women and children were burning in (a) Suzuki pickup, and a number of vehicles were destroyed, besides the shops (that) were also on fire,” Khan said.