A car bomb ripped through the Kohat bus station on Thursday, killing 13 people, including two children, and injuring over 37 on the outskirts of Peshawar, officials said.
According to officials, an explosive-laden vehicle detonated in the parking lot of the bus station, which is used by passengers travelling to the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas.
“It was an 86’ Corolla with 45 kilogrammes of explosives and a good quality of TNT,” said bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik, adding that the engine of the vehicle had been seized by the police for further investigations. Mortar shells were packed into the car to maximise destruction when the timed device detonated, Malik added.
A senior doctor in the Lady Reading Hospital, Rahim Jan, confirmed the death toll, adding that seven injured people were in critical condition. Another spokesperson for the hospital told The Express Tribune that a total 11 bodies and 37 injured people had been brought to the hospital, while two injured people succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.
The spokesperson went on to add that several of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.
“The death toll in the car bomb blast has now risen to 13, while more than 37 have been wounded,” city police chief Imtiaz Altaf said.
Over 35 vehicles, mostly passenger coaches, were heavily damaged during the blast. The drivers demanded compensation for their loss after the blast.
According to sources, law enforcement agencies had received prior information of an explosive-laden vehicle entering the city. However, there were no more details available.
“An investigation will be carried out to see whether it was lack of security or a breach of security that resulted in the incident,” Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters at the Lady Reading Hospital.
Eyewitness accounts described injured people crying and relatives of the dead sobbing over the bodies of their loved ones.
Dilawar Khan, 60, who was wounded in his left shoulder, told AFP his 12-year-old son Abdullah was killed while helping him run a tea stall at the bus station while on a break from school.
“I was preparing tea for the drivers and my son was serving tea for some other drivers when the huge blast happened,” Khan said, through his tears.
“Something like shrapnel hit me in the shoulder but I was conscious. Then I was brought to hospital and saw my son’s dead body. I’ve lost everything.”
Meanwhile, Yaqoob Khan, a wagon conductor who lost two of his children in the blast, told The Express Tribune that his children used to sell sweets at the Kohat bus station.
“They were my only hope,” said an aged Yaqoob, hardly able to utter the words coming out of his mouth.
There was no claim of responsibility and the precise target was unclear.
“At the moment I can’t say what the exact target of the bomb attack was but all those killed were innocent civilians,” Mohammad Siraj, the top government official in Peshawar, told reporters. (Additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.