PESHAWAR: The shock surrounding the murder of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa information minister’s young son by the Taliban had barely sunk in when a teenage suicide bomber targeted the mourning congregation on Monday, killing at least seven people.
The brazen assault in Pabbi, on the outskirts of Peshawar, was targeted at senior government officials gathering for the Soyem of Mian Iftikhar Hussain’s son.
Mian Rashid Hussain, 26, son of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, was shot dead by unknown gunmen on Saturday. On Sunday, the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the killing, saying that the youth was targeted because his father was an outspoken critic of their movement.
The bombing took place in Khansher Garhi, the native village of Iftikhar Hussain.
The bomber detonated the explosives strapped to his body outside the street where Hussain’s home is situated, officials said. The attack coincided with a visit by federal interior minister Rehman Malik to the village to offer condolences to Hussain.
The blast damaged a police vehicle and several shops, splattering blood on the ground and smearing human flesh across the walls.
Medics at the Pabbi hospital confirmed seven fatalities. They were identified as ASI Gul Malook, Head Constable Himmat Khan, Constable Alamzeb, 10-year old Ashi, Mian Suleman, Raziq Shah and Mudassir. At least 21 people, mostly policemen, were also wounded in the attack. Sub-Inspector Ejaz Hussain was rushed to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital due to his precarious condition. He was immediately operated upon and medics say his condition is now stable.
Security officials said the bomber was in his late teens and that both of his legs had been recovered from the blast site. “The suicide bomber was trying to enter the visitor’s compound at Hussain’s house,” senior police official Liaqat Ali told AFP. “The target was Mian Iftikhar and other officials sitting there.”
It was the third day of mourning for Hussain’s son and a large gathering had been expected to attend the Soyem later Monday. Federal ministers and other high-ranking officials had been due to arrive and some were sitting in the guest compound when the bomber struck. All ministers and other officials who had been at the home, including Iftikhar and his relatives were unhurt, police said.
“The teenage boy, wearing black clothes, blew himself up when the policeman was trying to search him,” Arshad Iqbal, a police official at site, who received scratches told AFP.
Sakhi Marjan, 50, a farmer in the village said the body of the policeman who tried to search the bomber was ripped to pieces
Police and paramilitary started a search operation after reports surfaced about two more suicide bombers in the village and urged people to stay at home.
Meanwhile, interior minister Rehman Malik confirmed that Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, had met the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud. “He visited Pakistan seven times and he met Hakimullah Mehsud and also met other people, those so-called leaders of the Taliban,” Malik told reporters in Pabbi. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2010.
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