PESHAWAR: Six paramilitary soldiers, among them a senior officer, were killed and two more injured in a roadside bomb attack on a convoy of security forces in the restive tribal region of Orakzai on Friday.
The attack coincided with a bombing outside a mosque located in a congested neighbourhood of Peshawar that killed five people and wounded another 24. The attacks come after a three-month lull in violence, beginning when the country was hit by catastrophic floods in late July.
The convoy of paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) was attacked with an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Yakh Kandaw area of Upper Orakzai Agency, a security official told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity. The convoy was travelling from the Ghaljo area, in Orakzai, to the garrison city of Kohat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The official confirmed that six paramilitary troops, including a colonel, were killed and two more wounded in the attack. The dead were identified as Colonel Yousaf, Havaldar Tahir Marwat, Habib Mengal, M Khan, Hanifur Rehman and Mazhar Hussain.
Funeral prayers for four of the slain soldiers were offered in Peshawar. The remaining two were buried at Parachinar in Kurram Agency and in the Orakzai Agency.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani and Corps Commander Peshawar Asif Yasin Malik also attended the funeral.
“Militants have been flushed out from Lower Orakzai Agency and internally displaced people from the area have returned to their homes,” Governor Ghani told journalists after the funeral. He assured that Upper Orakzai Agency would also be cleared of militants.
However, Ghani added that it would take some time to control terrorist attacks. He said that militants were receiving support from “outside”. He did not elaborate. According to military statistics, 2,421 army and paramilitary soldiers were killed and 7,195 wounded in fighting with militants from 2002 until April this year.
Meanwhile, a bomb attack outside a mosque in the Pishtakhara neighbourhood of Peshawar killed five people, among them two minors, and wounded another 24, police and rescuers said. Pishtakhara is located on the border with Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency.
City Police Chief Liaquat Ali Khan confirmed the attack outside Jama Masjid Pishtakhara Bala. He said the remote-controlled device was concealed in a piece of cloth. And it was detonated minutes after Friday prayers ended in the mosque.
Bomb Disposal Unit chief Shafqatullah Malik told reporters that two to three kilos of explosives were used in the blast.
A spokesperson for Rescue 1122 said five people were killed and 24 injured in the attack. Though no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, a local elder pointed finger at the Khyber Agency-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam.
“Earlier the mosque, belonging to the Barelvi sect, had received threats from militants,” the elder told The Express Tribune.
More than 3,740 people have been killed in suicide attacks and bomb explosions since troops stormed the Lal Masjid in Islamabad three years ago. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2010.
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