13 killed in Kohat bus station blast

| No group claims responsibility | Police suspect revenge attack by Taliban

KOHAT/PESHAWAR - A bomb planted at a busy bus terminal near Police Lines in Kohat exploded Sunday, killing 13 people including two women and a child, and wounding 16, authorities said.
At least 13 persons were killed and 16 others injured when a powerful bomb exploded on Hangu road near Police Lines area in district Kohat on Sunday.
The powerful explosion at Peshawar Chowk on Hangu road apparently targeted passengers in a motorised rickshaw and those on a mini-bus. The vehicle was packed with passengers most of whom were on their way to their respective villages.
Police said around five kilogrammes of explosive were planted in a cooking oil container and placed near the bus stop in the city centre before being detonated remotely.
The bomb exploded near police and other government offices. It was also close to a busy marketplace and an area where many Shias live.
But authorities said it was too early to comment on the possible target.
Soon after the blast local rescuers rushed to the site and shifted the victims to Liaquat Memorial Hospital while the critical injured were brought to Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar where they were provided emergency medical treatment.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though Kohat – which is some 150 kilometres west of capital Islamabad — has seen past attacks by local Taliban fighters and allied sectarian groups against its minority Shia population, which has a presence in the city and its outskirts.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) police chief Nasir Durrani said security forces have been conducting counterinsurgency operations in the area, suggesting that it could be a revenge attack by the Taliban.
District police chief Salim Khan Marwat, rejecting the notion that the blast was carried out by a suicide bomber, said that it appeared to have been carried out using a planted device. Durrani further said that according to initial reports, five kilograms of explosives were used in the blast which were planted in a wooden crate placed on the roadside.
KPK Governor Engineer Shaukatullah and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak strongly condemned the attack on the innocent people. They termed it an inhuman act of terrorists and vowed that elements responsible for such heinous crimes will be brought to justice.
Jamaat-i-Islami Central Ameer Munawar Hassan and Awami National Party President Asfandyar Wali Khan also strongly condemned the blast. In their separate messages, they expressed heartfelt condolences with victim families.
Local Taliban militants have killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis in a bloody war against the state in a bid to overthrow the government and enforce their own harsh brand of Islamic Shariah law. The government recently started peace talks with the Taliban, but negotiations were suspended after the killing of 23 soldiers by a faction of the militant group and a militant-claimed bombing in southern port city of Karachi that killed 13 police officers.
Air force jets have been pounding militants’ hideouts in various tribal regions near the Afghan border since the peace talks collapsed last week. Both the Pakistani government and the local Taliban are demanding each other to initiate a cease-fire first to resume the talks. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif long has favoured peace talks over military action to end the bloodshed in the northwest, but he is also under pressure from critics to retaliate for any Taliban violence.
On Saturday a roadside bomb targeting a local leader of a nationalist party in Buner district in the northwest killed three people and wounded two.
According to an AFP tally, 86 people have been killed in 17 attacks across the country since January 29, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced formal talks with the Taliban.
INP adds: Three persons were killed and two others injured when unknown miscreants attacked a car here on Sunday.
Police said that unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at a private car in Chattu Chowk area of Mardan. As a result of firing three persons were killed while two others sustained injuries.
The dead and injured were taken to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital.
Identities of the deceased were yet to be ascertained.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt