A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden motorcycle into a passenger bus on a busy roadside Monday, killing at least eight people and wounding 45 others in Peshawar, police said.
Violence has spiked in country ahead of national polls on May 11 with 56 people killed in attacks targeting politicians and political parties since April 11, according to an AFP tally.
Monday’s bombing took place at Peshawar’s Jehangirabad neighborhood on Arbab Road close to a police vehicle and also damaged a passing bus. “At least eight people were killed and 45 others were wounded in the bomb blast,” police official Mohammad Faisal told Newsweek, updating an earlier toll of four dead.
“The police commissioner was the apparent target but a bus passing close to it suffered the most damage,” he said. Peshawar’s administrator Sahibzada Anees had passed the site of the blast just a minute earlier, he added. “As soon as the commissioner’s convoy passed by the site, the suicide bomber drove his motorcycle into the passing bus,” he said. Hospital officials at the Khyber Teaching Hospital, where the injured and deceased have been shifted, confirmed the updated death toll.
Earlier, police official Faisal had identified the attack as a timed explosion, but amended his evaluation after the attacker’s limbs were found at the site of the explosion. “The bomber used approximately 5 to 6 kilograms of explosives in his attack,” bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik told Newsweek.
Earlier, on Sunday, a bomb targeting independent candidate Nasir Khan Afridi killed three and injured at least 13 others. Afridi, who is contesting from the Khyber tribal agency, was at a camp office in Peshawar at the time. He has been campaigning in the provincial capital to attract voters displaced by a military offensive against militants in the tribal areas.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the government in Pakistan to ensure adequate protection for election candidates. Human Rights Watch has warned that failure to do so could compromise the polls, as candidates would not be able to campaign openly for fear of retaliation.