PESHAWAR: The death toll from Friday’s suicide attack on a community hospital in Hangu district has reached 16, sources told The Express Tribune. Nine victims of the attack were laid to rest on Saturday amid tight security.
A tense calm prevailed in Hangu city a day after the attack. Most of the markets remained closed. Locals said that security forces had established check posts in different parts of the city with the movement of commuters and travellers being strictly monitored. There was a curfew-like scene in the city.
Sources said that Friday’s high intensity blast had also destroyed at least 11 houses in the Pas Killay area, a Shia-dominated neighbourhood of the city, when a tractor trolley laden with explosives blew up near an under construction Al Zohra hospital.
Meanwhile, a jirga of the Shia and Sunni notables was under way at the district coordination officer (DCO) office, Hangu, to defuse the situation. The elders of the Sunni Supreme Council condemned the attack. Talking to reporters, SSC chief Maulana Abdul Sattar condemned the attack and said that they regret the loss of precious lives in the attack. He said that they would cooperate with the authorities to maintain law and order.
Shia leader Maulana Khursheed Ahmed Jawadi thanked the Sunni community for their cooperation and said that both the communities will join hands to foil the conspiracy hatched by the ‘third hand’.
Kohat Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai held separate talks with Sunni leaders prior to the jirga. Khalid Khan told reporters following the meeting that the terrorists wanted to disrupt peace in Hangu district. He said that the attack was an attempt to create a Shia-Sunni schism. He asked the people to maintain law and order and foil the designs of the miscreants.
The attack on an under construction hospital in the Shia-dominated locality had escalated fears of trouble ahead of Muharram in Hangu district, which has a chequered history of sectarian violence. Earlier, on Wednesday, the authorities had declared Hangu as the most sensitive district for Muharram, along with Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Kohat.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2010.