PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A bomb exploded in the back of a bus carrying government employees in northern Pakistan on Friday, killing 17 people and wounding dozens, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but militants battling the government in northwestern Pakistan often target troops, officials and symbols of the state.
The bomb went off as the bus was traveling through the outskirts of the city of Peshawar, the provincial capital. It was carrying employees at the end of the work week back to their home city of Charsadda.
The explosion also wounded 42 people, said police officer Arif Khan.
Pakistani television showed images of the bus with its tail end completely mangled.
One witness who was not identified told Pakistan’s Geo Television channel that he was driving his car behind the bus when the blast ripped open the back end. He said dozens of people sitting on the roof of the bus — a common sight in this country’s overcrowded traffic — were thrown to the side.
Militants in northern Pakistan who are trying to overthrow the government and establish a hard-line Islamic state have been waging war in the northwest against the military.
Pakistan’s newly elected government came into office in June with a promise to open negotiations with the militants to end years of conflict.
But the talks seem to have gone nowhere so far, and the militants have continued with attacks such as the one on Friday.
Last Sunday, two suicide bombers attacked a church in Peshawar, killing dozens of Christians who were just finishing their service. Militants in northwestern Pakistan also killed a major general in the Pakistan Army earlier in September.