PESHAWAR: The death toll in Sunday’s attack on a military convoy in Bannu rose to 26 on Monday as six more soldiers succumbed to their injuries at hospitals.
Twenty soldiers were initially killed and 30 others injured in the blast in a private vehicle that the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) officials had rented for transporting their troops to Razmak in North Waziristan.
The injured soldiers were admitted to military hospitals in Bannu, Peshawar and Rawalpindi. Among them 15 were stated to be in critical condition at the time.The military officials said five critically wounded soldiers died in Bannu and Peshawar hospitals while one succumbed to injuries in the military hospital in Rawalpindi. They said some of the soldiers were still in critical condition.
According to sources, a high level inquiry ordered by the government on Sunday started its work to ascertain the reasons why a private vehicle was rented for taking the troops to North Waziristan and why it was not properly checked before being put to use.
The sources said that it was not first time that private vehicles were rented for transportation of soldiers to the tribal areas. “It was a routine practice. Whenever a need arose the FC officials used to call a manager at the Bannu bus terminal for providing vehicles on rent. It was the same manager who sent this explosives-laden and some other vehicles to the FC officials for use on Sunday,” a military official said.
Pleading anonymity, he said the manager had escaped and efforts to nab him had been launched.Meanwhile, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Engineer Shaukatullah Khan and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday travelled to Bannu and enquired after the health of the injured soldiers at the Combined Military Hospital.
Meanwhile, official sources said that the manager of the bus stand from where the passenger coach had been rented for transporting soldiers to Razmak in North Waziristan had been arrested.
The sources said that the security forces arrested Afzal, manager of the bus stand in Bannu, and shifted him to an undisclosed location for interrogation.The security forces also clamped curfew in the limits of Bannu Cantonment and other nearby areas. Schools and offices in the Cantonment area remained closed on the second day of the blast due to the curfew.In context of the bomb blast, a case was also registered against unidentified people at the Cantonment Police Station.