41 killed in Pak attacks on pilgrims, soldiers

41 killed in Pak attacks on pilgrims, soldiers

No group claims responsibility for incidents

41 killed in Pak attacks on pilgrims, soldiers

At least 20 people were killed and 24 injured on Sunday in a car bomb attack that targeted a bus taking Shia pilgrims to Iran in Pakistan’s restive southwest, hours after 21 soldiers abducted by Taliban from check-posts near Peshawar were gunned down by the militants.

Explosives planted in a car parked by the roadside were detonated by remote control when the bus was passing through the Mastung district of Baluchistan province, Deputy Commissioner Tufail Baloch told reporters.

Other officials said the wounded, many of them with burns, were taken to two hospitals in the provincial capital of Quetta. Officials of the bomb disposal squad said an estimated 80 kg of explosives were used in the attack.

No group claimed responsibility for the incident though the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been blamed for earlier attacks on Shias in Balochistan.

The vehicle that was targeted was part of a convoy of three buses carrying Shia pilgrims from Lahore, Jhang and Multan in the Punjab province, to neighbouring Iran. The buses were headed for the Taftan border crossing. Baloch said the buses had been provided an escort in view of earlier attacks on Shia pilgrims.

The route taken by the buses is usually cleared in advance but the attack occurred near a market where several vehicles were parked by the roadside, he said. The explosion triggered a fire in the bus. Witnesses said several people were burnt alive. The two other buses were slightly damaged by the blast.

On Saturday, seven people were killed and 50 others wounded when a bus was targeted with a bomb near a railway station in Karachi.

In a separate incident, 21 Pakistani security personnel kidnapped by the Taliban from check-posts near Peshawar were gunned down by the militants on Sunday, police officials said.

The bullet-riddled bodies of the soliders were found in the Jabai area, located a short distance from Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. They were reportedly shot dead at a cricket ground.

Two more kidnapped security personnel escaped and one of them was seriously injured.

One of these personnel alerted local authorities, who found the bodies.

The Taliban had kidnapped 23 personnel of the Levies militia after overrunning three check-posts early on Thursday.

Over 200 militants armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades had attacked the posts.

Two security personnel were killed in the attack.

The attackers, who were wearing uniforms of security forces, had taken away weapons and vehicles from the check-posts.