Worship turned bloodbath

Published: November 6, 2010

People clean the interior of a mosque following a suicide bombing inside the premises in Darra Adam Khel. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The death toll from a suicide bombing on a mosque in northwest Pakistan has risen to 68, officials said on Saturday.

A suicide bomber struck the mosque during the main weekly prayers on Friday. The blast turned worship into a bloodbath in Akhurwall village, part of the semi-tribal northwest area of Darra Adam Khel, about 140 kilometres (90 miles) west of the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

“Sixty-eight people are now confirmed dead in the bombing,” top local administration official Shahidullah told AFP.

The official said the death toll might rise after many people took away the bodies of their loved ones from the site of the attack so those were not included in the grim counting process. Police officials today (Saturday) confirmed the rise in the death toll.

Updated from print edition (below)

A teenage suicide bomber targeted a Friday prayers congregation at a mosque in a semi-tribal area near Peshawar, killing 61 people and maiming more than 100, officials said.

The bombing in Darra Adam Khel, in the administrative jurisdiction of Kohat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was the deadliest in two months. It destroyed the mosque structure, trapping human remains under a toppled roof and pulverised rubble, witnesses said.

Kohat Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umarzai confirmed to The Express Tribune that it was a suicide attack and that the target was the Friday congregation.

Witnesses said the bomber walked into the crowded mosque in the Attari village and shouted Allahu Akbar before a deafening explosion.

Dilawar Gul, 30, said he was collecting donations from worshippers when he heard the suicide bomber shout. “Then I heard a huge blast which flung me to a part of the mosque where the roof didn’t collapse, and I survived,” he added.

Local administration official Abdul Malik said 61 people were killed but warned the toll could rise further as some of the over 100 injured are in a critical condition. Residents said the force of the explosion reduced the mosque to a pile of rubble. Only one wall was left standing and the concrete roof collapsed, leaving blood stains and human remains scattered in the rubble.

Houses near the mosque were also damaged, including that of Wali Muhammad, the leader of a local pro-government tribal lashkar that had clashed repeatedly with the Taliban until reportedly cutting a deal earlier this year.

Ambulances and private volunteers rushed to take the victims to hospitals in Peshawar. Medics at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) told The Express Tribune that they received 92 casualties, among them 25 dead and 67 injured.

According to locals, at least seven children were also among the dead. And the LHR administration confirmed they received bodies of four children.

“Thick smoke filled the mosque compound after the blast. Bodies were scattered all over and the injured were crying for help,” Muhammad Sadiq, who was also injured in the attack, told The Express Tribune from his hospital bed.

Local tribal elder Sohbat Khan Afridi blamed the Taliban, given that Wali Muhammad, who formed the tribal lashkar in 2007 to rise up against the militants, has a house close to the mosque, although he is understood to live in Lahore.

The Taliban and the lashkar clashed repeatedly in the area but this year they reached some kind of compromise in which blood money was paid to the Taliban, Afridi said. He declined to go into further details saying only: “The lashkar apologised to the Taliban because they did not have the means to defeat the Taliban.”

But Azam Tariq, spokesman for the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), denied involvement.  “It is the work of Blackwater,” Tariq told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location in reference to the US security firm renamed Xe.

Umarzai suggested the attack could have been retaliation for military operations targeting militants. “An operation is under way by the Army and Frontier Corps in the Darra Adam Khel area. We had been expecting such attacks.”

Khyber-Pakthunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who visited the LHR, told journalists that an “undeclared third world war” was going on in the region. He called for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US to enhance intelligence sharing to control such attacks. Hussain also said that it was the responsibility of Nato troops to eliminate terrorists on their side of the Durand Line.

It was the second deadliest attack in Darra Adam Khel since militancy gripped the region. Earlier on March 2, 2008, at least 40 tribal elders were killed in a suicide attack on a jirga in the same area. (Additional input from AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Fardad
    Nov 6, 2010 - 10:04AM

    This only proves that terrorism has nothing to do with religion. Had it been so, the blast would never have occurred inside a mosque. This is a sinister game. The organizers are global players. They exploit the weak spot in present day Islamic dispensation where over a dozen virulent factions are pitted at each others jugular veins. So long as internecine hatred flourishes within Islamic sects and factions, the enemy would easily continue using it to destabilise any country in the name of Islam.

    What is required is to have a grand Ijtehad in which scholars from all factions participate and decide once for all that there should be an end to sectarianism in Islam. No body should be allowed to call himself a sunni, a shia, a debandi, a brelvi, an ahle hadith, an ahle sunnat or any other sect name.

    A Muslim should only call himself a Muslim and nothing else, as was at the time of our holy prophet. This single step would stem out all kinds of terrorism including that branded as taliban terrorism etc. Rest of the measures if any, would be only superficial with the perpetual threat forever hanging over our heads.Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 6, 2010 - 10:55AM

    It is very sad to see so many Barelvis are getting slaughtered by Deobandis on a daily
    basis.Recommend

  • mehsud
    Nov 6, 2010 - 11:47AM

    Azam Tariq, spokesman for the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), denied involvement. “It is the work of Blackwater,” Tariq told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location in reference to the US security firm renamed Xe.

    But the authorities were not considering this aspect of the incident and just trying to blame TTP for such kind of attacks. Black water is also active in establishing Pakistan by carrying out such attacks while the Pakistani officials have no courage to consider and include this aspect in investigation process.

    Pakistani officials were denying Black water presence in Pakistan and their presence and involvement in deadly activities is a fact. Recommend

  • mehsud
    Nov 6, 2010 - 11:51AM

    Please abstain from giving biased comments to fan sectarianism in the country which is already facing lack of faithful leadership and challenging problems. All of us whether Deobandi or Bravli will fight the menace to save the country. Recommend

  • Nov 6, 2010 - 1:51PM

    Stop it,bloody game,
    please stop it,
    are you Muslims?>
    you can’t,
    Islam does not permit of that.

    Why are playing with lives of innocent people
    on the name of Islam,
    if you are Muslims,
    no i never admit,you are not ,you are black dot on the face
    of this peaceful religion.Recommend

  • wali afridi
    Nov 6, 2010 - 1:55PM

    our govt has failed to probe out who are behind the blasting in mosques….we, the public, confused who carried out these activities..Public can help of they were shown the real culprits…Recommend

  • maulabus
    Nov 6, 2010 - 4:11PM

    I am really sorry for this massacre and deadly bloodbath—
    is there anyone who can tell me that are we living in Muslim state. i think not. if we are not safe in the house of Allah then tell me the safe place other then mosqueRecommend

  • Klues
    Nov 6, 2010 - 4:26PM

    Taliban is not behind these. However this looks like work of Tehreek-e-Taliban, front for CIA contractor operations. Now the neo-cons have taken back seat, Zbigniew Brzezinski intelligence faction is trying to punish Pakistan for being China ally. It is a global chess game and Pakistan happen to be in the covert war.

    You can count people on your fingers who can understand this, following are the perspective Pakistanis have (check comments from people on Tribune to confirm this);

    Muslims blame US but cant differentiate between different force in play inside US
    Apologetic Muslims blame everything on Afghani Taliban to serve their mission
    Government officials are either clueless dumb or has choose to side with US
    Opposition is playing blame game only, no tangible opposition from them
    Army is keeping quiet since they are paid for Afghan occupation and war on terror
    Government allies stuck infighting among themselves
    One ally equates Anti Pakistan party from KPK with Taliban
    Ahmedis will jump in and say they are victim – I find it mind numbing after reading these sympathy seeking comments in all Tribune articles

    Bottom line is law and order is responsibility of Govt. If they can find tax or loan thief on other side of planet, they surely can find people behind this. Recommend

  • A Suhail
    Nov 6, 2010 - 5:51PM

    So blackwater did?? So the guy who blew himself was American or PAkistani? And why do blackwater always kill those people who are against Taliban? The whole world including the Muslim world is fedup of these Taliban murderers and some of us Pakistani’s still blame everything on US. kindly read newspapers from other Muslim countries and your eyes will open up in what they say about Taliban and Pakistan in general. Recommend

  • Nov 6, 2010 - 6:53PM

    Lets just blame everyone else and not blame these pious mullahs who are our only key to Allah swtRecommend

  • nina
    Nov 6, 2010 - 7:03PM

    @ Ali
    What an irresponsible and immature comment you make! Do you have figures to back your claims of Barelvis being slaughtered daily, grow up! It is this mindset that is destroying the true beauty of Islam. Sunni, Shia we are all Muslims.Recommend

  • Klues
    Nov 6, 2010 - 9:46PM

    Mohammed Abbasi you should check the TerrorStorm documentary by Alex Jones (Not a Muslim) and first 20 minutes will give answer to what false flag operations are and history of them which we conveniently blame on Muslims.

    Blaming everything on Islamic scholars wont lead you anywhere. If you have evidence please show to use instead of hate mongering.

    Learn history which we Pakistanis dont and observe current affairs beyond our country. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 6, 2010 - 10:41PM

    So sad. A country full of Muslims, made for Muslims and Muslims have to think twice before going to a Mosque.Recommend

  • Klues
    Nov 7, 2010 - 6:05PM

    Blackwater or maybe other private contractors, maybe CIA themselves, they have a history of doing it.

    Current mess in Pakistan you want to see explained, here it is. Skip first 9 mins if you are short on time.

    Taliban biggest crime was that they establish Islamic state based on Shariah albeit a strict version. They didnt allow any central bank which made the Financial Oligarchs really nervous and they have to justify having a multi-billion arm industry after communism.Recommend

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