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Blast rips through bus stop in north-west Pakistan

A car bomb tore through a bus station Thursday outside the north-western city of Peshawar on the road to Kohat, killing at least 12 people, a senior police official said. The area is a stronghold of Taliban and al Qaeda militants.


AFP - A car bomb ripped through a Pakistani bus station on Thursday, killing 12 people, including two children on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said.

The attack happened on the road towards the garrison city of Kohat near the lawless tribal belt, a stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants blamed for violence plaguing both Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.

"It was a car bomb blast. Twelve people have been killed and 32 injured, we are investigating whether a suicide bomber was involved or not," senior police official Kalam Khan told AFP.

Private TV channel Dunya broadcast footage of the site, where the wreckage of a car lay alongside other badly damaged vehicles, and ambulances and rescue workers raced to ferry the wounded to hospital.

Doctor Rahim Jan told AFP that 12 bodies had been brought into Peshawar's main Lady Reading hospital and that 35 people were wounded.

"We have imposed an emergency in the hospital," he told AFP.

"Several bodies are charred beyond recognition. Ten to 12 of the wounded are in a critical condition," he added.

There was no claim of responsibility and the precise target was unclear, but attacks blamed on Taliban and other homegrown extremists opposed to the government's support for the US war in Afghanistan are common.

"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.

Tahir Ayub, a senior police official, told reporters that most of those killed were passengers waiting to board coaches.

"Two children were among the dead. According to a preliminary investigation, the bomb was planted in the car," he said.

Bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik said 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of "good quality" explosives and mortar shells were packed into the car to maximise destruction when the timed device detonated.

More than 530 bomb attacks have killed around 4,900 people across Pakistan since government troops in July 2007 stormed a mosque in Islamabad where Islamist extremists were holed up, provoking a local Taliban-led insurgency.

Last Friday, a suicide bomber killed 31 people in a mainly Shiite Muslim area of the northwestern town of Parachinar in the tribal district of Kurram.

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