Terror target: JUI-F chief escapes suicide attack near Swabi

Published: March 31, 2011
People gather near damaged motorcycles which were destroyed in the suicide attack near Swabi. PHOTO: PPI

People gather near damaged motorcycles which were destroyed in the suicide attack near Swabi. PHOTO: PPI

People gather near damaged motorcycles which were destroyed in the suicide attack near Swabi. PHOTO: PPI
Damaged motorbikes lie near the site of a suicide bomb attack in Swabi on March 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman had a narrow escape in a suicide attack which killed 10 people near here on Wednesday.

Another 20 people were also injured in the attack which took place on the Motorway near the Swabi interchange in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

A suicide bomber riding on a motorcycle detonated the explosives strapped to his body at a police checkpoint minutes before the Maulana’s bullet-proof Land Cruiser reached the spot, an eyewitness told The Express Tribune.

Police official Hayatullah Khan said the Maulana’s  convoy was set to enter the town when the blast hit. “We were lined up and party members came out from a nearby reception camp. Suddenly there was a huge blast amid welcome slogans by party workers. Shrapnel hit me and I received injuries to my head and leg,” he said.

A local JUI-F leader said the bomber wanted to target their chief, who was scheduled to address a public meeting in the Ambar area of Swabi. But he blew himself up when police tried to stop him.

“Our leader appeared to be the target, but he is safe,” said local JUI-F leader Maulana Fazle Ali.

Local police chief Abdullah Jan told the media that they have recovered the severed head and legs of the bomber from the site.

The bomber has been identified as Irshad Afridi, a teenage militant from the Khyber tribal region. Police said the bomber was identified with the help of an identity card recovered from his person.

Jan also confirmed the casualties. “Seven people died on the spot and three more succumbed to their injuries in the hospital,” he said. The injured were being treated at the Swabi district headquarters hospital, Shahmansoor Medical Complex and Khunda Civil Hospital.

District Health Officer Dr Gul Muhammad said that some of the injured with critical wounds have been shifted to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital. He feared the death toll could rise further.

Witnesses said that the bomber detonated the explosives strapped to his body after having an altercation with police officials who stopped him at a checkpoint. The explosion took place as the vehicle carrying former chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Akram Durrani, who also belongs to the JUI-F, cruised past the site.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman was scheduled to address a public meeting in Swabi city as part of his campaign against the Western coalition’s air strikes on Libya.

Syed Abdul Jabar Shah, District Coordination Officer of Swabi, said that the bomber used an unregistered motorcycle to mislead investigators. However, he did not say that the JUI-F chief was the target.

It was the second attack on the JUI-F, which is considered ideologically close to the Taliban. Earlier on March 2, 2009, five persons were killed in an attack on an Islamic seminary in Pishin district of Balochistan, where JUI-F senior leader Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani was about to address a convocation.

Hours after the suicide attack, the JUI-F chief addressed a public meeting where he blamed the provincial government for its failure to provide security to people.  “The government did not take appropriate security measures despite the fact that local JUI-F leaders had sought strict security for the meeting,” he said.

He said that his party would not be cowed down by such cowardly attacks. “We will continue to move forward with our mission despite all obstacles.”

The Maulana also came down hard on the federal government for its ‘flawed policies’ which have provided the US a “licence to kill innocent people in Pakistan”.

Referring to Pakistan’s support in the war against terror, he said, “It is not our war. It’s a war for American interests in the region.”

The maulana, who has launched a campaign to mobilise support for Libyan dictator Col Qaddafi, told the gathering that the United States was instigating unrest in the Muslim world. “The Americans and their Western supporters want to see a weak political leadership in the region in the larger interest of Israel.”

Senate demands govt to bring perpetrators to justice

Setting aside party differences, lawmakers in the upper house of parliament voiced serious concerns over the Swabi suicide attack and passed a resolution demanding the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, leader of the House in the Senate, allowed the JUI-F senators to move the resolution, which was adopted unanimously.

Bokhari urged the country’s political leadership to join hands to defeat terrorism,  which he said was targeting every segment of society.

Senator Raza Rabbani, who is also minister for interprovincial coordination, assured the lawmakers that the government would take every step to unearth the culprits behind the incident.

Earlier, JUI-F Senator Haji Ghulam Ali informed the legislators about the attack targeting the convoy of Maulana Fazlur Rehman. A delegation of Afghan parliamentarians was also present in the house to witness the proceedings.

Another JUI-F Senator Rehmanullah Kakar, who was minister for housing before his party pulled out of the ruling coalition, came down hard on the country’s intelligence officials and demanded their accountability.

Senator Professor Khursheed Ahmed condemned the attack and reminded the government of an earlier resolution passed by the Senate on October 22, 2008 calling for a national counter-terror strategy. He regretted that no step has been taken since to implement the resolution.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Sad state of affairs
    Mar 30, 2011 - 12:21PM

    The whole country is engrossed in a foolish game called cricket when countless people are dying in the name of religious and sectarian violence. Barelvis being killed by Deobandis, Deobandis being killed by Barelvis, Shias being killed by Sunnis, Ahmaddiyas being killed by non-Ahmadiyyas, Baloochis being killed by non-Baloochis, minorities like Christians, Jews being killed by fanatics…. any kind of combination is possible here in Pakistan. And during this hour of crisis the who nation is watching this sport called Cricket. Very sad indeed.Recommend

  • Gappoo
    Mar 30, 2011 - 12:46PM

    Who Cares … it’s the Pak India game we’re all bothered about .. these blasts are a daily occurrence ! Recommend

  • soofunny
    Mar 30, 2011 - 3:49PM

    i too was thinking the same !!Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Mar 30, 2011 - 4:17PM

    As you sow so shall you reap !

    You very well know what you sow. So, it is daily occurrence … no surprises …Recommend

  • Atif
    Mar 30, 2011 - 6:03PM

    sad / nation has not much to celebrate, cricket makes them feel as one. stop being a sadist.
    Ashoutosh/ no i disagree, raw and their consulates in afghanistan arent for issuing visasRecommend

  • Mar 30, 2011 - 11:54PM

    Sad to see how desentisised we’ve become…Recommend

  • Cautious
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Wake up – when things spiral downhill your suppose to vote people out of office – it’s the cause/effect thing they apparently don’t teach in Madrassas. Quit sitting around ranting about conspiracy theories, infidels, India, and Jews. Put some competent people in office – put the corrupt people in jail.Recommend

  • pakiscric
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:22AM

    is it still 10 or the score is more?Recommend

  • Nadir
    Mar 31, 2011 - 8:37AM

    I well aware of the political atmosphere but I’m a bit confused here. Jui is a right leaning party that sympathizes with the Taliban. Now there’s a suicide attack on them. It’s generally the Taliban that are doing all the suicide attacks in Pakistan and they and their off shoots are the only ones tht conduct suicide attacks. I’m vyncofused. So who is it then that attcked then? Why would Taliban attack the party that sympathizes with them. Is there some other organist on in Pakistan also conducting suicide attacks?Recommend

  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Mar 31, 2011 - 8:46AM

    Fazlur Rehman now tastes the same medicine he suggests for others. I am waiting for some nincompoop from JUI-F in TV talk shows justifying this suicide attack on his chief as retaliation of our great ‘Mujahidine’ in response of US atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya :)

    Our religious political parties for decades justified/nurtured/sponsored ‘Jihad’ in Afghanistan that only resulted as killing of muslims by muslims. Now these ‘mujahidine’ are turning against their own mentors :)Recommend

  • Jawad Rehman
    Mar 31, 2011 - 9:24AM

    Maulana, please wake up and smell the coffee. They have now come for you – because you did not speak up when they were going after others. Will you now for once try to understand the evil menace of Taliban? Their brutality will consume even their mentors, proteges, and sympathizers if they somehow disagree with you on anything. The fate of Khalid Khawaja, Col Imam, and others like them shows the fruits of cozying up to them too much. May Allah guide our ulema to the real right path.Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Mar 31, 2011 - 9:39AM

    These consulates are now more than eight years old and no proof yet. The suspicion mare breeds hatred.

    The Pakistan based muzahids and taliban destroyed Afghanistan totally and pushed it back to the 5th century situation of lawlessness and cruelty using the 20th Century weapons. You know destroying is very easy and by the effective use of religion it becomes easier still.

    India is sincerely involved in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Not only building roads, building and physical infrastructure but also schools, hospitals, their administrative structure, police, army and their parliament too.

    The rebuilding and development of Afghanistan is in favour of not only India but all its neighbors too and the biggest beneficially will be Pakistan no doubt.

    India wants to help the people of Afghanistan and accepts nothing in return.Recommend

  • Abdur Rauf Yousafzai
    Mar 31, 2011 - 10:42AM

    Attack was not on Maulana fraction it was once again on poor Police, the result is very clear only policemen martyred in blast no political figure.Recommend

  • Asmat Jamal
    Mar 31, 2011 - 11:12AM

    If Molvies were targeted why did other people die and all Molvies are safe.???Recommend

  • chandran
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:11PM

    im also quite suprise but once occasion he said that blasmey law can be
    discussed. may be because of thatRecommend

  • Asmat Jamal
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:11PM

    Political Parties which promoted violence or keep silent over its existence are responsible for what we are seeing today. Victory attained by violence is the same as a defeat, for it is short-lived. Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.
    Maulan’s Party was always the supporters of the Talibans and while condemning the act they will not utter a word about them. In any way they were not the target. It was the poor police which received the brunt. Procession was just a locomotive for them which brought them to the scene of crime. Recommend

  • Someone
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:25PM

    Just a friendly reminder that cricket world cup season is over…..now back to “routine”Recommend

  • Apr 1, 2011 - 6:24AM

    The Mullah is supporting Gaddafi now? The same gaddafi that calls himself a prophet?Recommend

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