PESHAWAR/Mohmand Agency – Only a couple of days after deadly Lahore suicide attack, three Taliban bombers struck at two places in north-west of the country yesterday, killing seven people and wounding at least a dozen others.
One bomber targeted civil judges in Peshawar, while two others attacked a government building in Fata’s Mohmand Agency, unnerving citizens whose growing sense of security has been shaken by a terror storm gripping the country for last three days.
Two suicide bombers launched an assault at the office of the Political Agent in Mohmand around 9am, opening heavy fire at the security men in bid to enter the complex.
One of them was gunned down by the Levies personnel but another exploded his vest, killing five people and injuring seven others. A third bomber was neutralised during the search operation launched in the area.
Later in the day, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a van carrying several civil judges that was travelling through Hayatabad area and detonated his explosive vest with a big bang.
“It was a suicide attack,” senior police official Sajjad Khan told AFP. He said the van driver and a passerby were killed in the attack, which was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Five people – including at least four judges, three of them female – were injured, he added.
Eyewitnesses and police said the terror strike happened near Sitara Market, PDA Building in Hayatabad Phase-V, resulting in death of the driver of the vehicle, Khursheed, and injuries to four civil judges.
The injured civil judges were identified as Asif Jadoon and Tehreem Sabahat, Rabia Abbassi and Amna Haider.
All of them were on way back to their homes after attending their routine duty. The condition of all the injured persons has been stated stable.
Asif Jadoon had decided the case of Afghan national Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman who was deported after she was arrested for illegally obtaining Pakistani nationality.
PTI chief Imran Khan was due to visit Hayatabad Medical Complex at 4:30pm in connection with a ceremony. The site is located at a seven-minute walking distance from where the blast occurred. The visit was put off. Imran’s visit to Peshawar Press Club was also cancelled due to the suicide blast in the city.
SSP Operations Sajjad Haider told media persons that apparently the target of the suicide bomber was the government vehicle, but they were investigating why exactly the van was selected for the attack.
Chief Capital City Police Tahir Khan said eight to nine kilograms of explosives was used in the attack as Bomb Disposal Squad was still examining the intensity of the powerful suicide blast. He said the police were vigilant on all the external routes linking with tribal areas, however, it was difficult to check every person entering the city.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and PTI chairman strongly condemned the heinous act of terrorism and termed it a reaction of operation Zarb-e-Azb. They also blamed federal government for not implementing the National Action Plan in its true spirit.
In Mohmad incident, officials told The Nation that the pair of suicide bombers opened indiscriminate fire at the Levies personnel to get into the offices’ complex. However, the security personnel promptly retaliated and killed one of them while the other blew himself up.
Five people including three Levies personnel were martyred in the explosion at the government compound in Ghalanai Town. Seven others wounded in the assault included children.
Later, police said, another suicide bomber blew himself up when security forces surrounded him during a search operation in the area.
“One suicide bomber blew himself up once spotted and challenged by security agencies,” the army said in a statement, adding the guards shot dead a second bomber.
Medical Superintendent (MS) Agency Headquarters Hospital in Ghalanai, Dr Shahid Muhammad said the martyred personnel included Sepoy Taj Alam, Sepoy Zar Said, Sepoy Yasir Khan and two civilians Tahir khan and a teacher – Pazir Gul.
The injured were identified as Havaldar Shah Room, Sepoy Hayat, Sepoy Sheraz and two children Haris and Moony, he added. The injured were shifted to Peshawar hospital for treatment.
The Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility in a statement emailed to journalists, vowing to continue their assaults on government installations.
The same Taliban group had claimed an attack in Lahore on Monday in which 13 people were killed and over 80 injured. The martyrs included seven police, two of them high officials – DIG Ahmed Mobeen and Additional DIG Zahid Gondal.
An eye witness Munir Khan, who teaches at the nearby Higher Secondary School in Ghalanai, said he was in the classroom when he heard indiscriminate firing followed by huge blasts.
“I thought our school was under attack, as we had already been alerted against a possible terrorist assault,” he said. He added that all the students in the school were scared as windowpanes of several rooms shattered due to the blast.
Drawing Master Pazir Gul, who also died in the blast, came to the school early in the morning, parked his car and left the school saying he had to go to bazaar for some work, Munir Khan said. He was nearing the main gate of the attacked complex when one of the suicide bomber blew himself up, killing Gul and others on the spot, Khan narrated.
Another deceased, Tahir Khan, had recently returned from Saudi Arabia and was visiting the offices’ complex to see his friend, Levies Havldar Kabeer Khan, who was on duty at the main gate.
After the incident curfew was imposed in the area and bazaars in Ghalanai and Ekkaghund were close down.
The Peshawar-Bajaur road was also closed for traffic till 2pm. Security forces conducted search operations in Ghalanai, Babi Khel, Halki Ghandab, Sheikh Banda, Garo Kando and others areas.
Meanwhile, officials said a party of the security forces came under fire in Mohmand. However, five militants were killed in the retaliation. Ammunition and explosives was recovered from possession of the dead militants.
Bombers hit judges van, govt office
OUR STAFF REPORTERs/Agencies
This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 16-Feb-2017 here.