A bomb has struck a school bus in Pakistan, killing a mechanic and wounding two children as they were being taken home after class in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said.
It was the fifth bombing in Pakistan since last Monday, as the nuclear-armed country stepped up security for the holy month of Muharram, which typically sees a rise in sectarian tensions and attacks on Shiite Muslim religious parades.
The explosion ripped through the congested Bhana Marri area on the outskirts of Peshawar, a city that runs into Pakistan's lawless tribal belt that Washington claims is the most dangerous region in the world and an al Qaeda hub.
Police said initially that the bus driver was killed but later identified the dead man as a mechanic whose workshop was nearby. The driver was among up to four people treated for injuries after the attack.
"My house was nearby, and I was standing up to get down when there was a deafening explosion. I saw a fireball and heard the explosion. I didn't know what happened after that," said nine-year-old Imam Gulzar.
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The windows of the bus from the Islamia Model School - a private English-language school - were punched out in the blast, the vehicle blackened by fire and a nearby shop damaged in the explosion.
Driver Gohar Ali said there were only two girls left on the bus because all the others were already taken home.
"While I was en route to drop off the last two, there was a blast on my right-hand side. I heard it and then passed out. I don't know what happened after that," he said.
City police chief Liaquat Ali Khan said that a motor mechanic was killed and two children wounded in the blast.
Administration official Siraj Ahmad said the bomb was a crudely-made device similar to those used to deadly effect by Taliban militants against US troops in neighboring Afghanistan and government troops in northwestern Pakistan.
"It was a roadside explosion caused by an IED [improvised explosive device]. The school bus was very close by. That's why it damaged the bus," he said.
"The bomb was planted [on the roadside], but we're investigating what the real target was because police also patrol this area," said police official Mohammad Ijaz Khan.
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