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07 December 2023

Minibus bomb attack in NW Pakistan kills 17


A minibus explosion in northwest Pakistan that killed 17 people and injured 11 others Monday was a terrorist attack triggered by a timed bomb, police told AFP.

Revising an earlier report that the blast had been caused by exploding gas cylinders, police in Jawarza, near the restive town of Hangu, said the minibus had been planted with about 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) of explosives.

"The report of the bomb disposal squad shows that explosive materials fitted with a timer were placed near the gas cylinders which caused the explosion," district police chief Abdul Rashid told AFP from the scene.

"The death toll has risen to 17 and five bodies still remain unidentified, as they have have been burnt very badly," he added.

The mangled and burned-out wreckage of the minibus and another passenger vehicle were left at the scene.

Rashid said most of the passengers in the minibus had been killed, along with two people travelling in a pick-up truck nearby when the blast occurred.

Senior police official Masood Khan Afridi confirmed that the blast was caused by high-intensity explosives.

"It was a terrorist attack," he said. "We are looking for the owner of the vehicle, as the driver was killed in the blast," he added.

In the same militant-hit district of Hangu on Friday, a female police constable was killed along with five of her relatives in a pre-dawn raid on her house by attackers armed with rockets and rifles.

The area borders the deeply conservative tribal region of Kurram, a lawless region on the Afghan border where entrenched militants oppose jobs and education for women.

Two days earlier a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police station in nearby Bannu, killing 18 people, mostly security officials, and wounding 15 others.

The Taliban are engaged in a campaign of violence against security forces in Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led "war against terror", claiming many attacks in revenge for US drone strikes on the rugged tribal areas.

The United States does not officially confirm the controversial missile strikes, which take place with Islamabad's tacit approval.

Around 4,000 people have died in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan since government forces launched an attack against militants in a mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

The bombings have been blamed on terror networks linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.