By Zulfiqar Ali
9:30 AM PST, February 23, 2014
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -– At least 10 people including a child were killed Sunday when a roadside bomb struck a passenger bus near the troubled tribal area of northeast Pakistan, police said.
Sixteen others were injured in the bombing in Kohat, which has seen attacks in the past by Pakistani Taliban militants against the area’s minority Shiite Muslim population. Police said most of the victims in the blast were Shiites.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the incident, which occurred when a 10-pound bomb packed into a crate exploded along a busy road. Five passengers were killed at the site and five others declared dead after they arrived at a hospital in Kohat, some 60 miles south of the provincial capital, Peshawar.
Violence escalated in Pakistan’s northeastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in recent weeks even as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to open peace talks with the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging an insurgency aimed at toppling the federal government. Nearly 200 civilians have been killed or wounded in terrorist attacks in the province this month alone, authorities said.
The peace talks collapsed after militants allied with the Pakistani Taliban reportedly executed 23 paramilitary soldiers in their custody last weekend. The government immediately suspended meetings with Taliban representatives and Pakistani security forces launched fresh airstrikes against suspected insurgent hideouts in the tribal area.
Early Sunday, Pakistani air force jets carried out bombings in the Khyber Agency tribal region, including in the mountainous Tirah Valley along the border with Afghanistan. Officials said the raids destroyed six insurgent hideouts and a bomb factory and killed 38 militants. The reports could not be independently verified because access to the area is severely restricted.
Ali is a Times special correspondent. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali in Washington contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times