PESHAWAR: Three people, including two children, were killed when a bomb, planted in a donkey cart exploded at a Sufi shrine in Peshawar on Thursday, police said.
The explosives were planted near the Panj Peer shrine on the outskirts of Peshawar. Worshippers had gathered for a weekly event at the shrine, which is also known as the shrine of five saints, normally held on Thursday evenings, when the bomb detonated.
“Three people have died and 22 are wounded,” police official Asif Iqbal said.
The dead included a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl who had come to the shrine with their parents, he added.
“The bomb was planted in a donkey cart parked near the shrine,” he said. The device was fitted with a timer and carried between eight and 10 kilogramme of explosives, he said.
The shrine houses the graves of several Sufi saints. The tomb of popular Pashto poet Rahman Baba is also located near the Panj Peer shrine. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but militants such as the Taliban vehemently oppose Sufi worshippers, who follow a mystical strain of Islam.
The blast was so powerful that it destroyed one side of the boundary wall, and carved out a large crater in the ground.
The injured were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), where an emergency was declared. Five children were taken to the hospital, including two toddlers who were separated from their parents after the blast.
“There are two toddlers whose injuries are limited to a few scratches but the real problem we face now is locating their parents,” said Hakeem, an LRH employee.
A child who survived the blast, Wajid, lost his grandfather during the blast. His grandfather, Zahir, used to sell sweets at the shrine.
“I searched for the old man but he was nowhere to be found and after 40 minutes a man told us that the sweet-seller is dead,” Wajid said.
Additional Inspector General of Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Shafqat Malik, said the bomb had been planted in a pressure cooker, adding that it was probably a remote-controlled device.
“The damage to the building is not that great but the blast played havoc with the lives of innocent people,” Dad Sher, the caretaker of the shrine, said, adding that the shrine had received threats from a Bara-based militant outfit.
“They warned us that if women came to the shrine and other anti-religion activities continued, something would happen to the shrine, but we did not take it seriously,” Sher added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2012.
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