At least 20 people were killed and dozens other injured in two bomb blasts at two different mosques in Malakand Agency on Friday.
Levies sources said the blasts took place during Friday prayers in Bazdara area of Malakand Agency. Twin blasts rattled Bar Kalley main Jamia Masjid of the Bazdarra region.
One blast took place inside a mosque and the second one occurred at the main gate of the second mosque.
At least 12 dead bodies were brought toPalaiHospital. Fifty injured were also treated at the same hospital. The remaining victims were referred to Dargai and Mardan hospitals, Levies official added. After the blast, roof of a mosque collapsed which inflicted more injuries and fatalities on the worshippers present in the mosque. The number of casualties is feared to rise due to intensity of the blasts which were remote-controlled, Levies official informed this correspondent.
A wave of fear and panic gripped the area after the blasts. Police and security forces reached the site and cordoned off the area soon after the explosions.
Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and many other politicians have strongly condemned the twin blasts in Malakand Agency resulting in loss of many precious lives. They directed the authorities to ensure best possible treatment to the injured. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the explosions and it was unclear as to why the worshipers were targeted.
Agencies add: The blasts at the two Sunni Muslim mosques also wounded 45 people, said tribal police officer Badshah Rehman.
Both the mosques were badly damaged, and the roof of one of them collapsed. The mosques were located in Bazdarra village in the Malakand district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Badshah said.
The dead and the injured were shifted to hospitals in Dargai and Batkhela.
According to reports, curfew was imposed in the area after the twin blasts.
In a message on popular social media site, PTI Chairman Imran Khan strongly condemned the blasts and condoled with the families of victims.
Shahid Ali, who was in the first mosque that was attacked, said the explosion came just as worshippers were starting Friday prayers.
“I rushed out with others and saw several people bleeding and crying,” Ali told a foreign news agency by telephone.
“There was dust and smoke around.”
Ali rushed to the second mosque after it was attacked and saw that its roof had caved in and it was on fire.
“Many people are buried under the rubble,” he said.
Rescue workers were trying to retrieve the dead and wounded from the debris, Badshah said.
The bombs were detonated by remote control but information was slow to filter through from the far-flung, mountainous area where there is no mobile phone coverage.
Officials had earlier put the death toll at 13.
Iqtidar Khan, 28, said he sustained head injuries.
“I came out of mosque after saying prayers when something pulled me with full force,” he told AFP by telephone from hospital after the attack.
“A piece of brick hit my head after a big bang. I could see nothing but smoke and blood on the stairs of the mosque,” he added.
He said the front gate and the roof on the veranda of the mosque were destroyed by the blasts.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is on the frontline of a nearly seven-year Taliban insurgency and abuts the semi-autonomous tribal belt where troops are fighting against militants.
The attack came just one day after Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said it was forming a coalition government with the right-wing religious Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and secular Qaumi Watan Party (QWP).
“Our province has badly suffered due to terrorism and we need unified efforts to bring peace,” Pervez Khattak, PTI’s nominee for provincial chief minister, told a news conference on Thursday.
PTI emerged as the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by securing 35 out of the 99 directly elected seats in the provincial assembly. JI and QWP secured seven seats each.
Its electoral success appears rooted at least in part in Imran’s call for an end to military operations and peace talks with the Taliban.
Friday’s attack was the deadliest in Pakistan since last Saturday’s general election, won by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, giving him a historic third term as head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N.
The Taliban, who denounce democracy as un-Islamic, killed more than 150 people during the election campaign, including 24 on polling day last weekend.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 18-May-2013