At least 11 persons were killed and 44 others were injured when a time bomb went off in a mosque adjacent to a shrine in Akbarpura area of the Nowshera district on Friday.
According to eyewitnesses, the blast took place inside a mosque adjacent to the shrine of Akhun Panju Baba.
Nowshera district police chief Qureysh Khan told The Express Tribune that the blast occurred following the Friday congregation, while people were eating langar inside the mosque.
Khan said it was a timed Improvised Explosive Device (IED) weighing around two and a half kilogrammes. He added that the shrine had received no threats previously and that the area was generally very peaceful.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Bashir Ahmed Bilour told reporters at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) that of the 11 persons who lost their lives, ten were taken to the LRH and one to Pabbi Hospital. Some 33 injured have been admitted to LRH while 11 are being treated at Pabbi Hospital, he added.
Bilour said that the provincial government was doing its utmost to counter terrorist activities, adding that militants, in the guise of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were taking shelter in cities. He asked the people to be vigilant of their surroundings and cooperate with the authorities to help thwart any untoward incident.
Medics at the LRH said that 43 injured persons were shifted to this facility, while one patient was being treated at Pabbi hospital.
Some of the deceased at the LRH were identified as Noor Ali, Waheed, Shahid, Rehman Gul, Faqir Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Zafar, Ihsan, Moeen Khan and Tahir.
Locals said that the bomb was packed in a piece of cloth and placed on a shoe rack inside the mosque. The blast left around a foot-deep crater inside the mosque besides shattering the windows, doors and damaging the walls.
Saeed Ahmed, an injured at the LRH told The Express Tribune that he was standing near a door when the blast took place. Ahmed said that most of the people had left following the prayers, while some stayed back for the langar.
“There was a huge explosion and then the door hit my head and the next thing I know, I’m in a hospital bed,” he said. Ahmed said that the blast had also affected his hearing.
This was the third attack of its kind in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in four days. Earlier, on March 1, at least 35 students were injured in an attack on a girls college in Mardan, while on March 3, nine persons were killed and dozens more injured in a suicide attack on a police mobile in Hangu district. The attack on Friday was the latest one on a shrine, while earlier several Sufi shrines have come under attack in different parts of the country in the midst of the ongoing insurgency.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2011.