A female suicide bomber and a handcart bomb targeted the police on Thursday, part of three separate attacks that killed at least seven people and injured another 42 in the first deadly attacks to hit Peshawar during Ramazan, police officials and medics said.
Five of those killed were reported to be police personnel in the suicide bombing that took place in the Lahori Gate area of the city.
Police officials and locals said that the first attack took place at around 7:20 am, when a police van was targeted with a remote-controlled device on City Circular Road. The second attack involved a female suicide bomber who targeted a police check post with a grenade attack followed by a suicide bomb.
“[In the first blast] the explosives were placed on a cartwheel and covered with corn bushels,” City Circle Superintendent Police (SP) Syed Imtiaz Shah told The Express Tribune.
Shah said that a few minutes after the first blast, a female attacker lobbed a grenade on a police party and later blew herself up in a nearby street inside Lahori Gate. It remained unclear, however, if a second woman was involved in the attack.
The SP said that only part of the female’s suicide vest exploded, while other half did not detonate, which resulted in fewer casualties.
(Read: Extended suffering: In Peshawar, the death of one brings down a dozen others)
Keeping the security situation of the city in mind, Shah said that police remained alert beforehand and the female suicide bomber was not able to successfully target the area where media and investigators were located.
Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) Additional Inspector General (AIG) Shafqat Malik told reporters at the site that the female attacker wanted to target the police and media, but she failed to breach the security cordon and blew herself up at the nearby police check-post.
Shafqat said that at least eight kilograms of explosives were used in the first attack, wherein four police personnel were killed.
AIG Malik said that in the second attack, the female suicide bomber tried to attack police, rescue teams and media, but she was not able to breach the security cordon at the site and slipped into a nearby alley inside Lahori Gate and lobbed a grenade on a police check-post and later detonated the bomb attached to her body.
Rescue staff and medics at the city’s Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) said that the eight bodies including the body of the female suicide bomber were brought to the hospital together with the other 42 injured.
The medics said that six people were killed and 25 others were injured in the first attack on the police van, while two were killed and 17 others injured in the grenade and suicide attack.
The age of the suicide bomber is said to be around 16 to 17 years, while police suspected that another woman may have been her handler.
Rehmat, a policeman who was at the check-post which was targeted in the second attack, said that two women were walking at some distance when there was a sudden blast, which was followed by another blast – and after that he saw two police personnel collapsing to the ground, besides the two women.
The blasts caused widespread panic across the entire city and heavy contingents of security personnel rushed to the scene and cordoned off the site. The City Circular Road was also cordoned off, which caused traffic bottlenecks across the city.
Those who died in the first attack on the police van were identified as Syed Wali, Wajid, Aftab, Asghar Ali and Ahmed Shah, while a police constable, Saleem, was killed along with the suicide bomber and other two women in the second blast.
Incidents of female suicide bombings are rare in Pakistan. In the last such attack in December, a burqa-clad bomber killed more than 40 people in an attack on a food distribution centre in Bajaur.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.