KHYBER AGENCY - At least 35 people including three members of Khasadar police were killed and scores of others wounded in a remote-controlled blast in the main bazaar of Jamrud in Khyber Agency, officials and sources said on Tuesday.

An explosive device was planted in a Tirah valley-bound passenger pickup van standing at a bus terminal. Passengers boarding the van were mostly from Zekha Khel tribe. The device exploded with a big bang, killing 35 people and wounding 69 others. According to sources, condition of 11 injured persons was critical. Three Khasadar police were also among the dead.

However, political agent Mutahir Zeb said 20 people including women and children were killed in the bomb blast hidden in a pickup van. “Investigation has been launched into the incident and soon the culprits will be netted,” he vowed. He also announced Rs 0.1 million each for the dead and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.

The intensity of the blast could be gauged from the fact that body parts of the victims scattered all over the surrounding areas, eyewitness Gairat Khan said. Personnel of security forces and political administration with the help of local people shifted the dead bodies and wounded to Jamrud and Peshawar hospitals.

Hospital sources said the death toll may rise as many of the injured were in critical condition.

Seven vehicles, 20 shops and a filling station were destroyed in the blast, sources said.

The locals were of the view that the blast could be a reaction to the last week’s security forces operation against the militants in Tirah valley in which an important militant commander, Kamran, was killed.

Last year, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in Jamrud during Friday prayers, killing 62 people.

It bears mentioning that militants have once again accelerated their activities in Khyber and dozens of tribesmen have lost their lives in three blasts in the agency during last 10 days.

Agencies add: There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing but local residents suggested it was a tribal dispute, as most of the victims were members of the Zekha Khel tribe who oppose the local warlord, Mangal Bagh.