PESHAWAR - At least 10 people were killed and 23 others were injured in a car bomb blast Wednesday on the Kohat Road in the provincial capital.

Police sources and eyewitness said the explosive material was planted in an Alto car (RIR-8930) parked in the Scheme Chowk area. It is said the main target of the blast was the vehicle of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in which several personnel were travelling.

The intensity of the blast created panic in the locality. Several shops, the PAF vehicle and a passenger bus were also damaged in the terror hit.

Soon after the incident, rescue vehicles and 1122 staff rushed to the blast site and shifted the wounded persons to the Lady Reading Hospital. The injured also include three children, three women and three personnel of PAF, who were on their way back after performing their duties. Four of the injured are stated to be in a critical condition.

Mohammad Bilal (resident of Kohat Road), Sarfraz Khan (Shaheedano Garhi, Arsala Khan (Achar Killi), Mehfooz, Younus (Parachinar), Asghar (Mosazai) and Izattullah (resident of Wahofull) have been identified as the victims.

Heavy contingent of police and bomb disposal squad rushed the scene and cordoned off the area. According to the bomb disposal squad, around 40 kilogrammes of explosives had been used in the attack.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti has strongly condemned the car bomb blast and expressed heartfelt sympathies over loss of precious lives. He directed the administration of hospitals for provision of better treatment facilities to the injured.

He prayed for peace in heaven of the deceased and announced compensation for the affected families. The chief minister termed the incident a coward act of terrorism. The chief minister announced compensation for heirs of the martyrs.

AFP adds: Glass, metal and pieces of human flesh littered the ground near a busy market after the explosion, which investigators said was likely to have been detonated remotely.

“Apparently the bomb was planted in a car parked on the roadside and it contained 30 to 40 kilogrammes of explosives, including artillery shells and ball bearings,” a senior official told AFP.

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban militants have been carrying out similar bombings and suicide attacks in the province, which neighbours Afghanistan.

Attacks blamed on Islamists have killed more than 5,200 people in Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in the capital Islamabad five years ago, according to an AFP tally.

Earlier this month, a suicide car bomber rammed a US consulate vehicle in Peshawar, killing at least two people.

Up to 19 people were wounded when the bomber struck during morning rush hour near the office of the UN Refugee Agency and residential quarters used by the US consulate in Peshawar.

Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militant groups who are sworn enemies of the United States frequently carry out attacks and have strongholds in the tribal belt near Peshawar.

Agencies add: A TTP spokesman for Tariq Afridi group of Dara Adamkhel Taliban, Muhammad has accepted responsibility for the blast.

In a telephone call to media, he said ” We accept responsibility for the blast on Kohat road. It’s a reaction to the killing of Mualana Naseeb Khan and the PAF jet strikes on a Madrassa in Orakzai Agency.”

He said that they were planning more attacks and would also target law enforcement agencies.