The death toll from the midnight blast on Wednesday during a Muharram procession in Rawalpindi’s Dhoke Syedan locality has risen to 17.
Besides policemen, a majority of those killed were young men who volunteered to perform security duties during the procession. Their funeral was offered peacefully at the Qasar-e-Shabbir Imam Bargah.
Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi police has registered a case against unknown assailants. According to SP Potohar division Haseeb Shah, preliminary information was being gathered and discussions were under way with organisers of the majlis at Qasar-e-Shabbir.
Data collected from hospitals show that as many as 34 people injured in the blast are admitted in three different hospitals
The head and limbs of the alleged suicide bomber are preserved at the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) for DNA tests. According to a senior doctor, the assaulter seemed to be 17 or 18 years of age and could be Pathan.
One of the injured, Muhammad Riaz, said the attacker tried to approach the main procession when volunteers stopped him for a body search. The attacker, however, said he would only allow policemen to do so. When the volunteers forcibly tried to search him, he blew himself up, Raiz added.
City Police Officer (CPO) Azhar Hameed Khokhar denied claims that the policemen on duty did not stop the suspected attacker, adding that four policemen, including a sub inspector, were injured in the attack.
In response to a question, the head of the district police said that the Imambargah at Misrial Road was not considered a security threat, while other important places in Rawalpindi were under strict surveillance. He added that all necessary equipment would be provided at places where processions are going to be held.
Speaking to the media at the DHQ after inquiring the health of the injured, senior advisor to the Punjab chief minister, Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa said that pillion riding would be banned across Punjab for the next three days.
He added that the Punjab government has requested the army and Rangers to support the police during Muharram.
Earlier, the Shia community of the area held a peaceful demonstration at Kamalabad Chowk condemning the killings and demanding foolproof security for the next three days.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2012.