Disaster in the making


Umer Nangiana May 26, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Sheer luck averted what could have been a disaster for Islamabad on Tuesday when a police official detected smoke coming out of an explosives container in the Bhara Kahu police station.

The container had some 620 kilograms of explosives material that had been seized by the police in February 2010. The police officials acted in a timely manner to prevent the explosives from catching fire. On the directions of the bomb disposal squad and the fire brigade officials, the stacks of explosives giving smoke were pulled out and buried under sand. The Bhara Kahu Police claimed that the explosives were heating up due to extremely hot weather and could have easily caught fire within a few minutes if the smoke had not be detected.

According to explosives experts, the amount in the container was sufficient to completely destroy anything within a range of over a kilometer. Talking to The Express Tribune, Major Tabassum, Incharge Bomb Disposal Squad, said that 600-700 kgs of explosives was a huge amount. “620 Kgs of dynamite explosives were powerful enough to cause the Marriott-like destruction,” he said. However, he ruled out the possibility of high explosives catching fire due to intense heat.“The high explosives always need detonation.

But when they are lying close to low explosives, which can catch fire due to intense heat, the high explosives blow up and cause huge devastation” he said. The explosives in the Bhara Kahu police station could not only destroy the whole police station, the resulting explosion could also damage the nearby public property since the police station is located in a populated area. The revelation highlights a worrisome situation.

This is not the only police station in a populated area which has stored explosives. Sabzi Mandi police station seized some 140 kilograms of explosives material from alleged smugglers this year. Margalla police station located near the district courts in the Sector F-8 also keeps some 20 kilograms of explosives seized from alleged smugglers. The other police stations of the city also have seized explosives but the quantity is less than 10 kilograms. Experts believe that some 6-7 kilograms of explosives are enough to cause a suicidebomber- like destruction. It has further been learnt that Islamabad Police has not taken proper safety measures in storing explosives in police stations, which is considered to be a highly dangerous matter. “Islamabad Police do not have a separate place for keeping the confiscated explosives. We cannot dispose them off either.

We have written to the authorities to provide us with an isolated place in the Police Lines Headquarters,” SSP Operations, Tahir Alam Khan told The Express Tribune. Talking about the Bhara Kahu incident, he said the police had taken all the relevant measures. “Bhara Kahu had placed the explosives in a separate container placed at a good distance from the main building of the police station” he said. “However, we do realise the danger posed by these explosives.” No separate place has so far been allocated for placing the explosives away from the populated areas.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 27th, 2010.

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