The blast in Gracy Lines area was caused by a young suicide bomber who, according to police, tried to cross the police picket to enter the Imambargh, where a Majlis was ongoing.
The explosion took place some 200 feet away from the main gate of the Imambargh where the police stopped the bomber and asked him for body search. Witnesses said, “when he was stopped for a body search he blew himself up, killing a police official and two volunteers.”
“Had the bomber managed to enter the Imambargh, It could be a big disaster as around 300 people were present there,” said Akhtar Lalika, CPO Rawalpindi.
He said one daring sub inspector of Rawalpindi police and two volunteers embraced martyrdom. Several more, including six police officials, received injuries.
Dozens of injured people were taken to local hospitals where some remained in a critical condition. According to hospital sources, the condition of SHO Airport police station, Rabnawaz is critical.
Investigators in the area confirmed the severed head and other body parts of the bomber had been recovered from the crime scene. Shortly after the incident, the area was cordoned off and security forces launched a manhunt.
Due its close proximity with the Benazir Bhutto International Airport and army installations, Gracy Line Chaklala is considered highly sensitive and heavily guarded. However, despite strict security measures, it could not be confirmed how the suicide bomber managed to sneak into the locality, raising serious questions on the efficiency of law enforcement agencies.
The sound of the blast was heard miles away. The blast shattered windowpanes of Imambargah and nearby houses, besides leaving several motorbikes and cars parked outside the place of worship damaged.
Another witness Tufail Shah said, “It was ear-deafening sound. There was dark cloud everywhere and screaming of injured persons.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of mourners gathered outside Benazir Bhutto Hospital, where they staged protest demonstration against the blast. They criticised the government over its failure in controlling terrorism. Earlier, they staged a protest outside the Imambargh. Their leader Allama Qasim Jafri condemned the suicide bombing and called upon the government to provide security to mourners.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2013.