Taliban suspected as 19 killed by bomb on crowded Pakistan bus

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NINETEEN people were killed and another 35 wounded after a bomb blast hit a bus carrying government employees and other civilians in north-western Pakistan.

The bus was near the city of Peshawar when the bomb planted inside it exploded yesterday, almost completely destroying the back half of the vehicle. The dead included six women, senior police officer Tahir Ayub Khan said.

Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is located near Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal region, the main sanctuary for Taliban militants and their allies in the country.

The city has suffered scores of bomb attacks over the past five years, but the level of violence had fallen in recent months, partly due to Pakistani military operations against the Taliban.

Residents took bloodied victims of the bombing to hospital in taxis, trucks and other private vehicles.

The bomb contained about eight kilograms of explosives and was set off with a timing device said a police explosives expert.

Jalal Khan, 14, was standing in the aisle of the crowded bus when the bomb went off and his right arm was slashed by a piece of metal.

“We all fell on the floor of the bus, and people were crying for help,” he said, while receiving treatment at a local hospital. “I was unable to see anything because there was a lot smoke, and I was having trouble breathing.”

The bus had departed from a government office in Peshawar and was headed for the nearby city of Charsada. Both government employees and civilians normally used it.

Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the province, said the government would relentlessly target the militants with a massive military operation if they did not stop the killings