PESHAWAR - At least five people were killed and nine injured when a suicide bomber exploded himself inside a mosque in Shahi Bagh area of Peshawar on Sunday.
Police said the suicide blast occurred at 12:40 pm inside a mosque near Tirah IDPs registration center which is situated in Malik Tehmas Football Stadium. The bomber first opened fire and later detonated his explosives-packed jacket with big bang. The blast resulted in killing of five people and injuring nine others. The high intensity blast also damaged some portion of Shahi Bagh Mosque which is near to football stadium.
The area is near to deputy commissioner office of Peshawar and other local government departments. However these offices remained safe in this powerful blast.
Soon after the incident, the Rescue 1122 ambulances rushed to the blast site and shifted the injured to Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar where they were provided emergency medical aid. Hospital sources said the injured were stable in condition. Emergency was declared in the hospital where large number of people had gathered to search for their relatives.
Those killed were identified as Mumtaz, resident of Nowshera, Jamal Khan, resident of Landi Kotal and two unidentified people. The injured were identified as Inam Sabz Ali, Zakir, Taj Mohammad, Shakeel, Sarfaraz, Ishaq, Sameer Khan and Abdul Amin. Heavy contingent of police and Frontier Constabulary reached the blast site and cordoned off the area. They also collected body parts of the suicide bomber and sent them for investigation. Talking to media person, SSP operation Najeebur Rahman confirmed that it was a suicide blast and its target was IDPs registration center. He said the age of the suicide bomber was between 20 and 22.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Parvez Khattak and Governor Sardar Mehtab Abassi have strongly condemned the blast in Shahi Bagh. They expressed their sympathies with blast victims. They termed the blast an attempt to sabotage the ongoing process of dialogue. PTI provincial president Azam Khan Swati and general secretary Khalid Masood also condemned the blast in Peshawar Shahi Bagh area and expressed heartfelt condolences with bereaved families.
Agencies add: The bomber was believed to have been targeting a group of refugees from the tribal belt who had gone to a government-run camp in the Arbab Niaz stadium to fill out paperwork ahead of their journey home. Senior police official Faisal Mukhtar said the bomber blew himself up near a small mosque inside the stadium and the dead included one tribal policeman.
Najeebur Rehman, another senior police official, confirmed the incident. “It was a suicide blast, around 10 kilograms of explosives were used,” he told AFP. He said the suicide bomber was trying to target the refugees who had fled fighting between the military and the Taliban in the Khyber tribal district.
“But he could not reach them because the security forces started firing at him and he blew himself up,” Rehman said. Shahid Afridi, a firefighter present at the site during the blast, said a man in his twenties entered the stadium and started firing with a pistol. “The security forces retaliated and then there was an explosion and I fell to the ground,” said Afridi, who sustained leg injuries following the blast.
Muzafaruddin Sadiq, head of the government-run Lady Reading Hospital, said: “We have five dead bodies and six injured,” adding one person remained in critical condition. Thousands of people from Tirah Valley in Khyber tribal district fled their homes after the military began an operation against Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant groups in 2011.
Many have sought shelter in government-run camps while others stayed with extended family or in rented accommodation. With the fighting in that district calming down, the government has started a repatriation process that requires them to register themselves so they are cleared to go home. The attack comes two weeks after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) formally ended a ceasefire called to help peace talks with the government.