Under curfew, Anbar reels from mosque bombing

To avoid breach of security during rescue efforts, the authorities clamped a ‘restrictive’ curfew


Iftikhar Firdous September 18, 2016
Victims of Friday's blast are being treated at Agency Headquarters Hospital in Khar area of Mohmand Agency. PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: An indefinite ‘restrictive’ curfew has been imposed in the Anbar tehsil of Mohmand Agency where a suicide bomber detonated the charge in the midst of worshippers during a Friday congregation. The death toll from the bombing in Payee Khan village near the border with Bajaur Agency jumped to 36 on Saturday as two more bodies were found under the rubble and six of the injured victims succumbed to their wounds.

Curfew imposed in Mohmand day after suicide attack kills 28

Four more critically injured victims were airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar, where 11 people have so far been brought for treatment.

Extensive search operations were launched in the area a day after the blast while senior administration officials shied away from sharing details. “Security officials will conduct an operation in the area,” an official said, refusing to give details.

To avoid breach of security during rescue efforts, the authorities clamped a ‘restrictive’ curfew, an official said. “Medical emergencies were allowed to pass and even those who came for mourning were allowed in,” he added.

Sources said the remains of the suicide bomber, who appeared to be in his early twenties, have been recovered. Mutilated bodies of 15 blast victims were buried on Friday night while the remaining bodies were buried on Saturday. A large number of mourners attended the funerals.

Mosque – a target of choice for terrorists

The political agent of Mohmand Agency announced compensation of Rs300,000 for each of the family of the deceased. The injured victims would be given Rs100,000. Ration for one month was also distributed among the bereaved families.

As social workers and political representatives berated television channels for not providing enough coverage to the deadly blast, the sense of neglect prevailing in the area was deepened as authorities struggled to put together a list of victims.

Even though officials strived to get the facts correct, when they arrived in the morning to enlist the casualties for compensation, an elderly man came up to them to ask about his relatives missing since the blast. Two more bodies were found from the debris later.

The single-room mosque with a rooftop made of wood and clay had partially collapsed after the explosion.

An official said poverty in the area could be judged from the fact that the mosque did not even have praying mats or any minarets.

Another official claimed that the bombing was to target a peace militia of the agency. Peace militias in the tribal areas have, however, been officially de-notified.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayat Ur Rehman and IGFC Maj Gen Shaheen Mahmood visited the injured at hospitals in Khar and distributed compensation money among their families.

At least 28 killed in suicide blast at Mohmand Agency mosque

A primary school for boys was announced in memory of the martyrs in Payee Khan village.

This was the fourth bombing in Mohmand Agency in September with three of them caused by low-intensity improvised explosive devices. On September 2, a Khasadar official was killed in an IED blast in Safi tehsil bordering Bajaur Agency. Two days later, two similar attacks killed two people in the same area while a woman was killed in a grenade explosion on September 8.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2016.

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