For any eyewitness, it may well have been a scene from the Armageddon. Charred human remains lay scattered amid pools of blood along the streets of a crowded market in Hangu, a brutal reminder of Friday’s suicide bombing near a Shia Imam bargah. At least 27 people were killed and 55 more injured in the attack – which targeted worshippers as they poured in and out for Friday prayers.
The bomber detonated explosives packed into a motorcycle in a narrow lane in the Pat Bazaar area that houses both a Shia and a Sunni mosque.
The deputy inspector general of police in Kohat region, Syed Imtiaz Shah, said the police had found the head of the bomber, who came there on a motorcycle and was approximately 22 years old. He went on to add that the attack targeted Shias, but Sunnis also fell victim since their mosque was also very close to the site.
“It is a crowded place where people from both the sects offer prayers. The Shia and Sunni mosques are very close to each other,” Shah said.
The blast, which took place as Shias were leaving Friday prayers and Sunnis entering their mosque for the Friday sermon, also damaged more than a dozen shops. Almost seven kilogrammes of explosives were used in the explosion, according to Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) in-charge Asadullah.
Two Sunnis and three police officers were among those killed in the blast. District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Muhammad Ishaq Bangash said an emergency was declared in the local hospital soon after the explosion, adding that the critically injured were shifted to Kohat divisional headquarters hospital and Lady Reading in Peshawar.
“A large number of people donated blood to the victims,” said Bangash.
Muzammil Hussain, a 28-year-old Shia who received wounds to his head and hand, said that he heard the blast as he left the mosque.
“As soon as I reached the mosque exit, a huge blast rocked the area. Many people fell on me with the impact of the blast,” he said by telephone from the District Headquarters hospital (DHQ) in nearby Kohat.
“I saw red and bloodied pieces of human flesh everywhere. It was a scene I’d never seen in my life before. I was half conscious when people moved to a local hospital from where my family took me to the DHQ,” he said.
“I could see human remains and blood splattered on the boundary walls of the mosque and on nearby shops,” said Constable Raaz Muhammad, who took part in the rescue effort. “The entire street was littered with sandals and caps of the people who were coming out of the mosque,” he added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2013.