PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A bomb on a bus carrying government employees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar killed 15 people on Wednesday, officials said, and a militant group claimed responsibility, saying it was revenge for death sentences passed against Islamists.
The attack took place on a main road after the bus picked up government workers from districts surrounding Peshawar and was taking them to work in the city.
Senior police official Mohammad Kashif said 15 people were killed and 35 wounded. A hospital official said the death toll was likely to rise.
“It’s premature to comment about the nature of the blast but it appears that explosives were planted inside the bus,” Kashif said. “There were 40 to 50 people on the bus.”
Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant group allied with the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility, saying it was to avenge a military court’s sentencing of 13 militants to death on Tuesday.
Pakistani security forces stepped up their fight against the Pakistani Taliban and allied militants along the border with Afghanistan after the massacre of 134 children at an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014.
Bomb attacks have fallen off since then as the militants have been squeezed into smaller pockets of territory. However, militant groups remain able to launch sporadic attacks on security forces and civilian targets.
Two Pakistani employees of the U.S. consulate in Peshawar and some soldiers were killed by a bomb while on a drug-eradication mission this month.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmad and Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel