A powerful blast targeting a bus full of Pakistani policemen killed thirteen and injured 57 in Karachi on Thursday. Hours laters, Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility of the attack, which is third attack in a row. Earlier 19 people including 9 anti-taliban volunteers were killed in Peshawar.
The latest incident of violence casts shadow on the peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
The Thursday’s explosion took place near the exit of the Razzaqabad Police Training Centre just as a police bus was leaving the premises. The bus was carrying police commandos on their way to provide security at Bilawal House, home to former president Asif Zardari and party leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan called the attack as an act of revenge. TTP claimed the attack was carried out in response to an operation against militants being undertaken by the police as well as the para-military Rangers force.
But the local administration insisted after the attack that there would be no let up in the operation and none of those arrested for being TTP members would be released.
Speaking to the media in Karachi, provincial chief minister Qaim Ali Shah said that the targeted operation in Karachi would continue no matter what happens.
TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid called up local TV stations and said the attack was aimed at taking revenge of Taliban members who had been killed in Karachi, Peshawar and Swabi recently by the police and Rangers.
“Twenty of our members have been killed in fake encounters in a month,” Shahid said.
There were more than 50 police officers in the police bus when the incident occurred and it was reported that a few civilians also sustained injuries. The vehicle was completely destroyed in the explosion.
According to initial reports, about 30 kg of explosives were used in the attack Police officials said that the bomb was remotely detonated. Pakistan has endured a bloody start to the year with 114 people killed in attacks in January, according to an AFP tally.
More than 60 people have died in Islamist-linked violence since Sharif announced the talks.
Both government and militants says they are serious about peace talks but analysts remain sceptical about their chances of success.
Past agreements between the Taliban and the army have proved to be short-lived.
In 2009 the army launched a full-fledged offensive in the northwestern hilly region of Swat, after a two-year local peace deal with the Taliban broke down there.