RAWALPINDI - A suicide attack near an imambargah in Rawalpindi on Tuesday evening left at least three people dead, including a sub-inspector, and 15 others wounded, officials said. The bomber was also killed in the explosion.

There was no immediate claim about the responsibility of the bombing by any terrorist outfit or cell.

Officials said a bomber, riding on a motorcycle, tried to break into a police checkpoint at the entrance to Issna Ashri imambargah in Chaklala’s Grassy Line area near Benazir Bhutto Airport at around 9:48 pm when a procession about the death anniversary of Hazrat Bibi Sakina [RA] was in progress and detonated his himself when a police team, led by headed by station house officer Rabnawaz and sub-inspector Ammanat Ali tried to stop him. As a result, a sub-inspector and two mourners were killed instantly, while 15 others were wounded, among them a sub-inspector and five constables.

Soon after the explosion, personnel of law-enforcement agencies rushed and cordoned off the area and all the roads leading to the imambargah.

Rescuers also reached the spot and shifted the dead and the wounded to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital.

The explosion stirred up panic among mourners present inside the imambargah. It was so powerful that it could be heard miles away. Two cars and 19 motorcycles were badly wrecked and three shops damaged. Pieces of human flesh and blood littered the site of the blast.

Forensic experts and officials of Bomb Disposal Squad also arrived at the scene and started collecting the evidence as well as body parts of the bomber.

A rescuer said rescue teams had to face hardships because it was dark outside and a lot of people had gathered at the site.

A witness, Amir Abbas, said he was inside the mosque when he heard a big bang that shattered the windowpanes and the front canopy of the mosque.

Another witness said had he attacker entered the mosque, losses would have been immense. He said the Rawalpindi police displayed valour by intercepting the bomber at the checkpost.

City Police Officer Akhter Umar Hayyat Lalayka said the attacker tried to breach police security but on failing to do so, he detonated himself, killing a sub-inspector and two other mourners and wounding 11 others, including five policemen.

The police team saved the imambargah and mourners from havoc, the official said, adding the bomber faced resistance and failed to achieve his indiscriminate aim. He said body parts of the bomber had been sent for forensic examination.

The blast created panic among mourners who came out of the imambargah and started chanting slogans against the government and terrorists. The clerics and zakireen blamed the police for poor security that led to the blast.

According to hospital sources, three dead and at least 14 wounded were brought to the hospital. Most of the wounded were stated to be in critical condition.

The dead were identified as sub-inspector Ammanat Ali, Wasim Zaidi and Ghulam Shabbir, the organiser of the procession.

The injured included SHO Rabnawaz, SI Abbas, constables Javed, Ijaz, Manazar Hussain, police driver Khalid Pervaiz, mourners Tayyab Abbas, Tahir Hussain, Aftab, Ahmed, Alamdar, Haider Abbas and Zeeshan Haider.

A large number of Shia protestors gathered outside the hospital and staged a demonstration calling for arrest of the perpetrators of the bombing.

An emergency was declared in the district headquarters hospital and Holy Family Hospital. Security was ramped up in the entire city to avoid further unwanted happenings.