DERA GHAZI KHAN - A bomb blast in a passenger train near Rajanpur district Friday morning killed at least four people and wounded 18 others.

According to police officials, the bomb, which was planted in one of the compartments of the express train, went off at around 9:45am. Khushhal Khan Khattak Express was travelling from Peshawar to Karachi.

Railways authorities said the bombing took place near Kotla Hasan Shah railway station in Rajanpur’s Kotla Behram village. They said a ten-feet deep ditch had been formed and about 200 feet long portion of the track completely damaged.

Witnesses said there was a hue and cry when the timed device went off, derailing eight carriages of the train.

A senior police official told a foreign news agency, "At least four people were killed and 18 others wounded when a bomb exploded in one of the compartments of Khushhal Khan Khattak express." Zahid Mehmood Gondal said eight train wagons fell from the track.

The bombing led to a suspension of rail traffic between Kot Addu tehsil in Punjab and Kashmore town in Sindh.

Railways police official Raja Zaheer Arshad confirmed the blast and casualties. He said two trains carrying rescue workers, medical teams and law enforcers rushed to the site. Three of the victims were identified as Irfan, Inayatullah and Suleman Khan. The wounded passengers were shifted to the district headquarters hospital.

There was no immediate claim about the responsibility for the bombing.

Railway authorities claimed a relief train from Jacobabad was moved to the troubled site to ferry the passengers. But many stranded passengers had to travel on a self-help basis, using other means of transportation.

They said the damaged portion of the track was being rehabilitated. They said a case had been lodged against unidentified miscreants. Some sources claimed the train derailed due to speeding and that it was not a bomb attack.

Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique meanwhile announced compensation for the victims.

He condemned the blast and called it a “cowardly act”. He announced Rs0.5million compensation for each victim and Rs0.1 million for each injured. 

He said investigation was being carried out to nab the perpetrators of the blast.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in violence since 2001, when Pakistan allied itself with the US-led war on terror.