KHANPUR / BAHAWALPUR: As Khanpur reeled from Sunday’s blast that killed 18 people in a Chehlum procession organised by Shias in the area, another bomb was found at the venue on Monday.
As the death toll from Sunday’s bomb attack on a Shia mourning procession rose to 21, police on Monday found and defused another explosive device near the site of the first bombing in Khanpur tehsil of Rahim Yar Khan.
Three more injured expired overnight in hospitals, taking the tally to 21, medics said. Over 50 people were admitted to the Tehsil Municipal Hospital Khanpur and Sheikh Zaid Medical College Hospital in Rahim Yar Khan. One of them with life-threatening wounds was referred to Victoria Hospital in neighbouring Bahawalpur district.
Provincial Ministers Iqbal Channar and Mian Abdul Ghafoor, along with top police officers, also flew in to Khanpur. They visited the hospitals and directed the doctors to provide best possible treatment to the injured.
It also transpired on Monday that 14 of the dead mourners were from the same family and had come from the Hajan Kalan area to attend the Chehlum procession in Khanpur.
On Monday a pall of gloom hung over Khanpur as residents mourned their dead. Mass funeral prayers were offered for 14 of the victims. Over 100,000 mourners from all across south Punjab attended the funeral. The remaining dead were buried individually in their ancestral villages.
Police found another explosive device weighing two kilogrammes and wrapped in a polythene bag at a graveyard adjacent to the Imambargah Darbaar Hussain. The Bomb Disposal Squad was immediately called in to defuse the device.
“Perhaps the terrorists wanted to detonate the second bomb to target the funeral,” Jam Muhammad Aslam, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Special Branch, told The Express Tribune.
Sources said that a man was also detained for questioning in connection with the bombing. He was first roughed up by mourners and then handed him over to paramilitary rangers who shifted him to an unspecified place for interrogation.
Investigators revealed that Sunday’s bomb was concealed in a box strapped to the electricity pylon in which sacred papers were disposed of. Police are trying to track down the culprits.
Khanpur remained tense as rangers patrolled the streets amidst a shutter-down strike. Lawyers also boycotted court proceedings to register their protest against the carnage.
Protests were also staged in different towns and cities of Punjab on the call of Millat-e-Jafria, Imamia Student Organisation and Shia Ulema Council. They blamed the provincial government for ‘inadequate security’ at the procession route.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.