A militant rammed an explosives-laden car into the Crime Investigation Department (CID) building in the early hours of Wednesday, pulverising what was once a two-storeyed red-brick building.
Eight people, including seven policemen and one army official, were killed and at least 46 others injured in the powerful suicide attack that took place in the jurisdiction of the Peshawar Cantonment.
Several policemen were trapped under the rubble for nearly 10 hours, officials said. Rescuers struggled to pull the buried men out.
The explosion jolted the city. The attack took place outside the CID Police Station on the main University Road near Gora Qabristan which lies between the American Consulate and the Army’s Special Service Group (SSG) paratrooper training school. It is also just a stones-throw away from the military check post.
Senior Superintendent of the Police (SSP) Operations, Peshawar, Ijaz Ahmed told The Express Tribune that at least six police personnel were killed in the attack and dozens others were injured. “It was a suicide attack and the attacker was driving a Shahzore mini truck,” Ahmed said. At least 250 kilogrammes of explosives were stuffed inside the truck, he said.
However, Ahmed denied the notion that there were any bodies buried under the rubble or that the rescuers were searching for them.
Efforts to clear the rubble were ongoing till the filing of this report – about 12 hours after the blast occurred.
The injured were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and CMH.
Survivors told The Express Tribune that the blast was huge. They said they were fast asleep, and later woke up to find themselves trapped underneath the rubble.
Faqir Shah, an injured CID official, told The Express Tribune that he was asleep on the ground floor of the building when the blast took place. Trapped under the rubble, he was rescued by his collogues after an hour-long struggle.
Shah said around 30-40 of his colleagues were usually present at this police station. However, another CID official put the head count to around 25-35.
The CID official said that at least two sentries were killed, while another was missing.
Shahbaz Khan, another survivor, said he was sleeping on the top floor of the building, but when he woke he found himself on the road.
Khan recalled that as he walked away from the rubble, he saw the body of another colleague crushed under the collapsed building.
The blast also damaged around two dozen houses situated on Qafla Road, apart from destroying a portion of the cemetery’s wall.
Mohammad Hanif, a resident from Qafla Road, told The Express Tribune that people living in the area were busy offering morning prayers when the explosion took place at around 04:35 am.
A watchman at a clinic close to the destroyed building, Sharifullah Khan, said that heavy firing ensued after the blast, adding that as a result of the explosion, the body of a policeman flew across the road more than 150 feet away.
K-P senior minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour told the media at the crime scene that militants were trying to demoralise the security forces, adding: “It is our war and the nation should unite to face the terrorists.”
Bilour said that the militants should lay down their arms for any sort of political settlement.
Officials of the Bomb Disposal Unit said that explosives weighing around 250-300 kilogrammes were packed in the vehicle, while mortar shells were used to intensify the blast. Rescue 1122 officials confirmed that at least 46 people had been injured and seven had been killed. Twelve of the injured were identified as army personnel.
Two bodies were retrieved from the rubble in the evening, after the SSP (operations) had denied that there were any men buried under the collapsed structure.
Wednesday’s attack on the CID police station was the second on the facility in about two years. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was their fourth reprisal for Bin Laden’s death.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2011.
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