Uptick in violence: Blast near Imambargah kills 5 in Rawalpindi

Police claim the bomb was planted in a house opposite worship place

Relatives of victims mourn outside the site of a blast in Rawalpindi. PHOTO: AFP


A powerful bomb went off outside an Imambargah in the Chittian Hattian area of the garrison city Friday evening, killing five people, including a policeman, and wounding 18 others, with officials warning that the death toll may rise.

The blast took place outside Imambargah Aun Muhammad Rizvi where a ceremony was organised in connection with Eid Miladun Nabi (SAW), according to the acting City Police Officer (CPO) Haroon Joya. Around 80 people, including women and children, were present in the Imambargah when the explosion occurred.

Residents said it was a suicide attack and the bomber detonated the explosives when he was stopped at the gate of the Imambargah for a body search. Initially, police officials present at the bombsite said the nature of the blast was unclear but “it could be a suicide attack”.

However, Regional Police Officer (RPO) Umar Akhtar Hayat Lalika later told a television news channel that it was an improvised explosive device (IED) which was planted in a house opposite the Imambargah.

The blast damaged houses in the neighbourhood and triggered chaos among those inside. The casualties were wheeled out on carts from the narrow lanes of the Committee Chowk area where the Imambargah is located while security officials cordoned off the area to facilitate access for rescuers.

RPO Lalika confirmed that five people were killed and 18 injured in the blast. However, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar Dall said, “I can confirm the death of seven people and injuries to 15 others. This number may go up,” he told AFP.

Eyewitnesses said the explosion was strong enough to shatter glass windows.

“There was a huge bang,” one eyewitness, Sadia Widad, told AFP from the scene. “The injured are being taken out of the Imambargah on carts because ambulances are unable to enter the narrow street. “Lights went out due to power breakdown soon after the blast,” she said.

The casualties were driven to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) and Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) where some of them were said to be in critical condition. Medics at the DHQ said they have received five bodies and several injured. They identified four of the dead as Qaim Ali, Ali Mehdi, Javaid and Amanullah.

The injured at the DHQ include Faiza, Mehak, Hadi Shah, Sikandar, Fayyaz, Shehla, Badar Alam, Ibne Rizvi, Haji Shah, Ali Sikandar, Mehdi Raza, Nauman, Ayaz Mehmood and Imran, while those at the BBH were identified as Shehbaz, Ismail, Saeed and Sayyad.

Denouncing the bomb attack, Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi of the Shia Ulema Council (SUC) announced three-day mourning. SUC’s Central Secretary Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi said the law-enforcers had failed to protect the life and property of citizens.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the bomb blast and expressed his government’s resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism and extremism.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but militants linked to the Taliban and sectarian extremist groups have targeted the Shia community in the past.

A bomb targeting Shia community members at a volleyball match killed at least four people and injured eight in Orakzai Agency last Sunday. The incident happened at the Hussaini ground, owned by the local Shia community in Kalaya, the administrative headquarters of Orakzai Agency.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2015.


Wali | 6 years ago | Reply

We still seem unsure after more than 12hours if it was a planted bomb or a suicide attack.... Can only hope for better protection and catching these criminals.

Thinker | 6 years ago | Reply

Crushed all the terrorist PAK ARMY!!! My deepest sympathies with bereaved families.

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