PESHAWAR - At least 18 people, including nine policemen, were killed and several others injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpost at Harichand, an area near Char-sadda, Wednesday evening.
According to official sources, six passers-by, nine policemen including SHO Jahangir and ASI Qayyum, were also among the dead. Jahangir was known for foiling an attempt by a bomber to kill Sikandar Sherpao.
The sources also informed that apart from the explosive-laden car, another suspected vehicle was also seen near the checkpost, which disappeared immediately after the blast. Police have launched a search operation for the suspected vehicle.
Soon after the incident, the rescue workers reached the site of the blast and shifted the injured to District Headquarters Hospital Charsadda.
According to eyewitnesses, it was a high-intensity blast, which blew the bodies into pieces up to 100 metres off the site of the blast and shattered the windowpanes of the nearby buildings. The explosion left a three-metre wide crater. The area was littred with blood and body pieces were strewn around, they said.
The area borders Malakand Division which includes scenic Swat Valley where the government Monday signed an accord to enforce Sharia law as part of efforts to end an insurgency, despite fears that it could encourage extremism.
Charsadda District has seen several suicide bombings and is home to the chief of the ruling Awami National Party, Asfandyar Wali Khan, who himself narrowly escaped a suicide attack last year.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the suicide attack.
In their separate messages, the President and Prime Minister vowed that the perpetrators of such a heinous crime would be brought to justice.
They also directed the concerned authorities to investigate the matter as early as possible. They ordered the provincial government to provide best medical treatment to the injured of the blast.