By: Anwarullah Khan
KHAR: At least six people, three of them women and two children, were killed when a roadside bomb detonated by remote control struck a van taking them to a school in Salarzai tehsil of Bajaur tribal agency on Tuesday.
The women were schoolteachers.
Official sources blamed the blast on Taliban who had been involved in similar blasts in the past.
According to official sources, the blast took place at around 8am on Tuesday in the far-flung area of Thangi, about 10 kilometres northeast of Khar, the administrative headquarters of the agency.
The six people killed in the blast included the driver of the van. The school for girls is run by a non-governmental organisation.
The deceased include three female teachers, two children and the driver of the vehicle.
The six deceased were identified as Tabinda Bibi of Kot Mena in Malakand Agency; Sameera Bibi, of Mardan; Salama Bibi, of Thana in Malakand Agency; Abbas, 6, nephew of Tabinda Bibi; Abbas, 5, nephew of Sameera Bibi; and driver Liaq Shah, Inam Khoro Chinagi area.
Residents said the powerful blast created panic among people.
“I was working in my field near the road when I heard the explosion soon after the vehicle entered the katcha road in the area,” Akbar Khan, a resident of the area, said.
According to the local administration, the blast destroyed the van. A passerby was injured in the blast.
Driver of school van hit by explosion also dead
Soon after the blast, local people and members of the peace committee rushed to the area and retrieved bodies and took them and the injured to the agency headquarters hospital in Khar.
Sources in the administration told this correspondent that no arrest and no claim for responsibility had been made till late evening.
“We have started investigating about the tragic incident but according to credible information, Taliban militants are responsible for the attack as these elements have been involved in such activities in the past too,” an official of the administration said.
An official of the `Idea’, a non-governmental organisation working for the promotion of education in the far-flung areas of agency, told Dawn that the teachers who had died in the blast were non-locals.
He said the education project was recently launched in the Bajaur agency to provide basic education to girls deprived of proper schooling because of Taliban threats.
According to official data, at least 109 schools have been blown up by Taliban since the upsurge of militancy in Bajaur region in 2007.