Peshawar: A suspected suicide car-bomber killed 41 people on Friday in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, government officials said, vowing to press ahead with an offensive against militants in the northwest.
“We have 41 dead and about 100 wounded but the figure could go up as over a dozen wounded are in critical condition,” Syed Zahir Shah, provincial health minister, told Reuters by telephone.
The suspected car-bomber set off his explosives as he was passing a bus, police said.
Television pictures showed the wrecked bus on its side on a road in a commercial neighbourhood of the northwestern city. Several cars were also destroyed.
“The bus was making a turn when the blast occurred and it threw the bus into the air,” a witness told the Duniya television channel.
Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, has been hit by numerous bombs over the past couple of years.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Security forces have made gains this year against al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban militants who have set off numerous bombs in towns and cities, mostly aimed at the security forces and government and foreign targets.
The government ordered the army to go on the offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in their South Waziristan bastion on the Afghan border.
Security forces have been launching air and artillery strikes, while moving-in troops, blockading the region and trying to split off factions, while preparing for a ground offensive.
Interior minister Rehman Malik said the blast underscored the need for action against the militants.
“One thing is clear, these hired assassins called Taliban are to be dealt with more severely,” Malik told reporters in Islamabad.
“I think the incident of today has accelerated this,” he said, referring to preparations for the offensive.
“We think we have no other option except to carry out an operation in South Waziristan because every matter, every incident, whatever is happening, all roads are leading to South Waziristan so I think we’ll have to proceed,” he said.
He declined to say when an offensive would be launched.