PESHAWAR: Twenty-one persons were killed and over 40 others injured on Friday when a powerful bomb ripped through a bus carrying government employees in Gulbela area on the Charsadda Road in the jurisdiction of Daudzai Police Station.
Thirteen bodies, including nine women, and 18 injured were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Peshawar, while the rest of those killed and wounded were shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital, Charsadda. A state of emergency was declared at both the hospitals.
Eyewitnesses said more than 60 people were on the Charsadda-bound bus when the bomb went off in Gulbela, located around 20 kilometres from the Peshawar city. Some passers-by and those seated in other nearby vehicles were also caught in the huge blast and sustained injuries.
Superintendent of Police (SP), Rural Peshawar, Shafiullah Khan, told The News that almost eight kilogrammes of explosives connected with a time-device were used in the attack.“The police and experts of the bomb disposal unit (BDU) collected pieces of evidence and concluded that the bomb was planted at the rear end of the bus. Most of those sitting on the rear seats had boarded the vehicle from the Bacha Khan Chowk in Peshawar city,” Shafiullah Khan explained.
“Most employees of the Civil Secretariat were sitting on the front seats and this is the reason they remained unharmed or sustained non-fatal injuries. Some passengers were also sitting on the roof of the vehicle,” he added.
Some of those killed in the blast were identified as Dilraj, the head nurse of Lady Reading Hospital, another employee of the hospital Riasat, Munawwara Begum and female medical representative Mubina from Garhi Hameed Gul, Noor Zaiba and her two-year-old daughter Mahnoor of Station Koroona, Charsadda, Shakira of Rajjar village, Paghunda, Resham and Jan Badshah of Charsadda city, Sohail of Dalazak Road, Peshawar, Sher Bahadur of Dhaki Meerabad and Inayatullah of Jamalabad village in Charsadda.
Some of the injured included Naseem, Shazia, Wali, Haroonur Rashid, Nadeem, Jameel Afzal, Habibullah, Mansoor, Muhammad Jalal, Khalilullah, Ibrar, Nayyar Zaman, Nadeem, Yousuf, Khalil, Nisar and Khan.
Eyewitnesses recounted the scene of charred bodies lying inside the bus and on the road and in nearby fields soon after the blast. They said several critically wounded people were crying for help. The traffic was blocked on the Charsadda Road as people rushed to rescue those wounded in the devastating explosion and sought information about their loved ones.
The casualties were high among women as females are normally given the rear seats in these passenger vehicles.The bus was completely destroyed, while several other vehicles were also damaged partially or completely. A case against unknown people has been registered at the Daudzai Police Station.
A number of buses parked near the Cantonment Railway Station as well as the Government College and other parts of the city bring government employees of Charsadda and other nearby districts such as Mardan, Nowshera and Swabi to Peshawar daily and then drive them back to their villages. Other passengers running errands in Peshawar also travel by these buses along with the government employees.
There were intelligence reports since early in the morning that a suicide bomber had been tasked to carry out an attack in the city.Security was already high since the morning after intelligence reports that terrorists may strike again on Friday, which normally remains tense all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata as most terrorist attacks take place on Fridays.In a statement issued from the Awami National Party (ANP)’s headquarters Bacha Khan Markaz, Peshawar, the party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan condemned the blast.
Agencies add: President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan condemned the blast in Peshawar. In their separate messages, they expressed sorrow over the loss of lives.They prayed that Almighty Allah rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity.