PESHAWAR/DERA ISMAIL KHAN: At least five people were killed and 27 others injured when an explosive laden motorbike was detonated close to the venue of an Awami National Party (ANP) public gathering in Nowshera on Monday, according to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Information Minister Mian Ifitkhar Hussain.
The gathering was attended by KP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, whom the information minister said was the target of the attack. Eyewitnesses said that the explosion took place just after the chief minister left the venue in a helicopter.
Nowshera police chief, Muhammad Hussain, told The Express Tribune that explosives were tied to a motorbike and detonated through a remote control. Hussain said that the blast took place inside a parking lot, when people started leaving the venue.
Police had a security cordon close to the venue, and vehicles were parked at a separate place, he said, adding that bomb disposal unit (BDU) investigations suggest that the explosive device weighed around four kilograms.
Mian Iftikhar also asked the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan to sit together and decide the fate of the militants. “Courts let them go free after we arrest them, and sometimes it leads to missing persons stories,” he said.
KP Excise and Taxation Minister Liaquat Shabab told reporters that such attacks could not stop political parties from public gatherings and that they were not afraid of such attacks and would continue to hold public meetings.
However, while the police termed it a remote-controlled device, a man who took responsibility for the attack called it a suicide hit
A purported Pakistani Taliban leader, Asimullah Mehsud, called journalists from an undisclosed location and claimed responsibility for the “suicide” attack, terming it a response to military operations. “We accept responsibility for this suicide attack, and it is the retaliation to the military operations being conducted in the tribal areas,” Mahsud added.
Medics at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital said that about 27 injured have been brought to the hospital, including eight policemen, besides two dead bodies. An emergency was imposed at the facility to treat the victims of the bomb attack.
Four of the dead were identified as Mohammad Israr, Sabz Ali, Mohammad Hussain and Tariq, while one unidentified body was lying at a Nowshera hospital morgue.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2012.