In the third suicide attack this week, at least 11 persons were killed and 22 others were injured in Hangu, officials said.
Several nearby houses collapsed because of the high intensity of the blast, which took place near an under-construction hospital in the Pas Killay area. Officials feared that many people might still be trapped beneath the debris.
Abu Bakar Mansoor, a purported spokesperson for the shadowy militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to media organisations in Peshawar.
“Eleven people were killed and 22 injured,” Hangu police spokesman Fazal Naeem said. Two policemen, a woman and a child, were among the dead.
District Coordination Officer (DCO), Hangu, Adil Seediq told The Express Tribune by phone that an explosive-laden vehicle was detonated on the Shahu Road area. Regarding the target of the attack, Adil said that he was not sure which building was the actual target of the terrorists. He said efforts were being made to retrieve people still trapped beneath the rubble.
Local people told The Express Tribune that the blast was so powerful that it damaged several houses in the Pas Killay and Syedan Mohallah.
A local man said that at least six houses and seven shops had been razed, adding that after the blast, the entire area was engulfed by thick smoke and gunpowder fumes.
Local sources said the blast damaged the façade of the under-construction five-storied al Zohra hospital, said to be owned and built by the Shia community.
Local people told The Express Tribune that the area was in complete darkness after the explosion severed power lines.
Security forces have cordoned off the area and closed off the main road.
On Wednesday, the provincial government had declared Hangu as a ‘most sensitive’ district for Muharram.
Hangu district has a long history of sectarian violence and many attacks have occurred here.
Earlier on Monday, two suicide blasts killed more than 40 people in Mohmand Agency, and on Wednesday, another suicide hit killed at least 18 people.
The recent wave of terror has come on the heel of Muharram, just as the authorities beefed up security measures in a bid to thwart attacks on processions.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2010.