Twenty security personnel were killed on Sunday and 30 others were injured in a bomb attack in Bannu Cantonment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Inter Services Public Relations said that at 0845 hours an explosion took place in a civilian Toyota Hiace van inside the Bannu parade ground. This was a rented vehicle from the market used by the Frontier Corps for moving its troops. The explosion caused by “ a vehicle borne Improvised Explosive Device (IED)” took place when the men were seated inside the van and ready to leave in a convoy for North Waziristan Agency.
Sources said that six bodies of those were unrecognisable due to the blast and DNA tests were being conducted to identify them. Fifteen of those critically injured were flown to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar.
The blast has been widely condemned by all leaders and political parties. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has decided to cancel his visit to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum in the wake of the recent spike in terror incidents and the Bannu explosion.
“Our nation is united against extremism and terrorism and the sacrifices rendered by our citizens and personnel of law enforcing agencies will not go in vain”, said the Prime Minister in a statement, while condemning the terrorist attack.
Dawn reported that Shahidullah Shahid, spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told a foreign news channel that the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack and that they would continue to target security forces.
Questions are being raised about why private vehicles were hired for moving troops and the Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has sought details of the incident.
The latest bomb blast comes after the TTP last week targeted the Express News van in Karachi and killed three staffers. It called up a news anchor on the Express News channel to claim responsibility.
Before that the Taliban also caused a massive explosion in Karachi killing the head of the counter terrorism operations Chaudhary Aslam Khan and his gunman and driver.
According to a news report the TTP has again expressed willingness to have talks with the government which is now at a crossroads on the matter. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf chief Imran Khan had on Friday demanded another All Parties Conference and asked the government to update the parties on the fate of the dialogue with the Taliban. He called it match fixing by the government and alleged that if no dialogue was started how can the government claim failure. He said he was told that the military had only a 40 per cent chance of success in eliminating militants in an operation and dialogue was the only option.
The interior minister said an army team would probe the Bannu attack and for the last two and a half months the government was making efforts to talk to the Taliban. He said investigations were underway on whether the Bannu blast was a suicide attack or not.