At least eight people, including the son of an influential Afghan cleric, have been killed and 45 others wounded after a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a bus in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, police say.
Qari Hilal, the son of cleric Qazi Amin Waqad, died in Monday’s suicide bombing which appeared to have targeted Sahibzada Anees, a senior official in the city administration.
He had passed by shortly before the blast in the Jehangir Abad neighbourhood.
Qazi Amin Waqad is a member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, which is trying to draw the Afghan Taliban into peace talks.
Hilal was organising a conference of Afghan and Pakistani religious scholars to oppose militancy, Afghan consulate officials quoted by the Reuters news agency said.
The attack is the latest in a wave of violence that has rocked Pakistan ahead of national elections on May 11.
“At least eight people were killed and 45 others were wounded in the suicide bombing,” Mohammad Faisal, a police official, told the AFP news agency.
“The commissioner, who passed just a minute before from the road, was the target of the bombing, but he escaped unhurt as the bomber missed the target and struck his motorcycle into a passenger bus.”
Body parts of the suicide bomber were found at the blast site, he added.
String of attacks
Bomb disposal officials said the explosives weighed up to six kilogrammes.
At Khyber hospital, an emergency has been declared as officials fear the death toll could rise, Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reported from the capital, Islamabad.
At least 56 people have killed in attacks targeting politicians and political parties since April 11, according to an AFP tally.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed several attacks over the weekend.
The Taliban is opposed to secular parties taking part in the forthcoming elections, our correspondent said.
“The idea is that the Pakistan Taliban do not want these elections to go off smoothly. They say that a lot of these parties are secular. They’re not in Pakistan’s interests. They say that Pakistan … should be a more Muslim country,” he said.
The group has been waging a bloody campaign against the government for years and has stepped up attacks ahead of the vote.
On Sunday, 11 people were killed in bomb attacks on a political rally and two campaign offices in the northwest.