Terror in Islamabad: Gun and suicide attack leaves 3 dead

Published: February 18, 2015
Email
Relatives of the victims comfort each other at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE

Relatives of the victims comfort each other at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE

Relatives of the victims comfort each other at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE Express News screengrab

ISLAMABAD: A day after a deadly suicide bombing outside the Police Lines in Lahore, a lone bomber killed three persons at an Imambargah in the federal capital but failed to enter the main prayer hall or detonate his explosive vest.

The outlawed Jundullah extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack on Qasar-e-Sakina Imambargah located on Kuri Road during Maghribain prayers.

Witnesses said the bomber, who was also armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, ran towards the Imambargah and fired at the main entrance, killing two guards and a worshipper and injuring two others. The bomber also hurled a hand grenade which was deflected as the worshippers inside locked the door.

Some media reports claimed that one of the guards had prevented the bomber from entering the compound. However, these reports could not be substantiated.

“I heard gunshots and rushed out of my house. I saw a man who hurled a grenade and then ran into the Imambargah,” said local resident Ahmed Nisar.

“The suicide bomber had opened fire  before trying to enter the Imambargah which caused the causalities,” a police spokesman said. A Punjab police officer present at the site added that the bomber’s vest did not explode or else there would have been many casualties.

However, IG Islamabad Tahir Alam Khan said the suicide vest partially exploded, killing only the bomber. “Half of the vest remained intact which was subsequently defused by an army team,” he added.

The bomber appeared to be in his twenties, IG Khan said, adding that they have collected his fingerprints for identification.

Soon after the blast, police and army troops threw a security cordon around the area as Rescue 1122 and locals shifted the casualties to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.

The police identified the dead as Ghulam Hussain, 60, Abdul Shakoor, 56, and Sakhawat Hussain, 60. Only two persons – Muhammad Altaf Hussain, 56, and Sajjad Hussain Shah, 72 – were injured in the attack, according to the police. Locals, however, said some injured were also driven to a hospital in nearby Rawalpindi.

Fahad Marwat, a spokesman for the banned Jundullah extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency.

The attack is the latest in a wave of deadly sectarian attacks. On January 30, over 60 people were killed in a bombing at Karbala Moalla Imambargah in Shikarpur. Similarly, at least 23 people were killed in a gun and suicide attack on Imamia Masjid in Peshawar’s Hayatabad neighbourhood on February 15.

Ensuing protest

The attack triggered a protest by angry residents who blocked the Expressway for traffic and chanted slogans against the government for its ‘failure’ to provide security in the federal capital.

Shia Ulema Council Secretary General Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi said the blast was a result of the non-implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism. If the government cannot ensure security in the federal capital, how it could maintain law and order in the rest of the country, he said.

“Enemies want to see an end of the Shia-Sunni unity but that will not happen,” he said, adding that the attackers were enemies of the state.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2015.

10:26pm

10:15pm

Shia Ulema Council Secretary General Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi said that the blast was a result of the non-implementation of the National Action Plan.

While condemning the blast, Wahidi said that if the government is incapable of controlling attacks in the capital and garrison city how they would control situation in the rest of the country. “Enemies want to see an end of the Shia-Sunni unity, but that will not happen,” he said, adding that the attackers are the enemies of the state and the state should immediately respond with force, our correspondent Rizwan Shezad reports.

10:10pm

The police claimed that the blast occurred when people were preparing for eveing prayers, adding that a security guard managed to close the gate of the Imambargah which immensely reduced the impact of the blast, our correspondent Rizwan Shehzad reports.

The police have identified deceased as Ghulam Hussain s/o Khan Muhammad, 60, Abdul Shakoor s/o Makhan Khan, 56, and Sakhawat Hussain s/o Bahar Hussain, 60.

The injured include Muhammad Altaf Hussain, 56, and Sajjad Hussain Shah, 72.

10:05pm

The FIR will be registered at the Shahzad Town police station in Islamabad, says our correspondent Fawad Ali.

9:08pm

Syed Atif Hussain Shah, a local, told The Express Tribune that this was not the first time the imambargah had been targeted. In 2009 it had been attacked, leaving a girl dead.

However, he added, religious harmony prevailed in the area, an example of which is the existence of a mosque, adjacent to the imambargah.

“The imambargah and the mosque adjacent to it only have a four-foot wall between them. They have been there for many years, and there has been no clash between them.” 

8:57pm

The blast took place near the mosque in the imambargah compound, our correspondent Fawad Ali reports.

8:46pm

An army bomb disposal unit arrives at the site of the blast to defuse the suicide jacket, our correspondent Fawad Ali reports.

PHOTO: AGHA MAHROZ/EXPRESS

8:20pm

The death toll now stands at three, according to PIMS spokesperson Dr Ayesha Ishani.

8:03pm

A police spokesperson said that the attacker’s suicide vest was faulty and did not detonate completely. The attacker died as a result of the grenade explosion.

Further, the suicide vest has been defused, our correspondent Fawad Ali reports.

8:00pm

Condemning the attack, the leader of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen requested army chief General Raheel Sharif to expand Operation Zarb-e-Azb into Punjab as well.

“We will stage a long march if Shia killings do not stop,” he said while addressing the media. He also demanded the arrest of the culprits.

7:51pm

A Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jundullah claims responsibility for the attack.

7:49pm

A search operation has been initiated in surrounding areas, including Shakrial, Sadiqabad and Shahzad Town, our correspondent Rizwan Shehzad reports.

7:48pm

One of the attackers has reportedly been arrested from inside the imambargah, our correspondent Fawad Ali reports.

7:45pm

Ahmed Nisar, an eyewitness who lives close to the imambargah, recounts what he saw during the attack.
“I saw a man throw a grenade, he was rushing inside the premises. As soon as he was inside, we heard an explosion,” he said.

7:42pm

According to an eyewitness, two accomplices of the bomber ran inside the mosque as well but did not blow themselves up.

7:40pm

The attacker fired at the main gate after which two people died on the spot, according to our correspondent Fawad Ali.

The attacker then reportedly threw a grenade and ran into the building but his jacket did not fully detonate.

7:36pm

A search operation has been launched at the site of the blast.

Army personnel, Rangers and police officials are present, our correspondent Fawad Ali reports.

Further, a large number of residents are protesting against the attack near the site of the attack.

7:34pm

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have condemned the blast.

Further, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has also condemned the attack.

7:32pm

The critically wounded under treatment at PIMS have been identified as Mohammad Altaf, Syed Shaukat Hussain and Sajjad Hussain.

7:24pm

PML-N MNA Marvi Memon condemned the incident and termed it a reaction to the ongoing military operation launched against militants.

7:15pm

Express News screengrab of the site of the blast

7:08pm

Four injured victims, three of whom are in critical condition, shifted to PIMS.

7:05pm

As per initial reports the blast occurred when a suicide bomber blew himself up after security officials stopped him from entering the imambargah.

The guard of the imambargah is said to have sacrificed his life while attempting to stop the bomber from entering the premises.

7:02pm

So far, two bodies and three injured victims have been shifted to PIMS, according to the hospital’s spokesperson Dr Ayesha Ishani.

The deceased have been identified as Ghulam Hussain and Abdul Shakoor.

6:59pm

According to initial reports, the attack was a suicide blast.

6:54pm

The imambargah is located in a high security zone, in the vicinity of expressway, the main highway which links the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The imambragah falls within the jurisdiction of Shehzad Town police station.

Here’s a Google image of the location of the imambargah.

6:53pm

The explosion reportedly took place during Maghreb prayers.

Express News screengrab of the site of the blast

6:52pm

Police have cordoned off the area and rescue efforts are underway.

6:45pm

According to Rescue 1122, the explosion took place in Qasr-e-Sakina imambargah.

6:44pm

The blast preceded heavy aerial firing which continued for 20 minutes, according to an eye witness account.

6:42pm

Due to the impact of the blast, windows of nearby buildings broke.

Law enforcement agencies and rescue officials have reached the site of the blast.

The nature of the blast is not yet known.

This was the fourth major attack on an imambargah this year; the first being an attack on Rawalpindi’s imambargah Aun Mohammad Rizvi earlier in the year. Imambargah’s were also attacked in Shikarpur and Peshawar.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (18)

  • zara
    Feb 18, 2015 - 6:53PM

    Praying no deaths. ET keep updatingRecommend

  • Pacifica
    Feb 18, 2015 - 7:17PM

    Another attack?

    At what point do you finally take action against these murderous fanatics?

    And what’s with the “imambargah” terminology? Why not just call it a mosque? Isn’t that what it is?Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Feb 18, 2015 - 7:28PM

    Shia and sunni were living in peace for hundreds of years, we live, work and play with each other, but what happened after 9/11 is extraordinary. How does it make sense that instead of hitting the enemy we started killing each other? Iraq, Syria and now Pakistan? Shia and sunni? Seriously? Its nothing else other than a great game to divide and kill. Recommend

  • Ashraf
    Feb 18, 2015 - 7:47PM

    @Ahmed:
    We can help by telling the truth. Shia-Sunni conflicts were happening way before 9/11. Don’t try to deflect responsibility for everything.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 18, 2015 - 9:17PM

    there was a news that indian media said chinese president isnt pak visiting but chinese officials refuted. Just sharingRecommend

  • Inqliaab
    Feb 18, 2015 - 9:21PM

    Another attack in Punjab. Yet Shahbaz Sharif is enjoying the high life with his brother. PMLN is the worst government in the world.Recommend

  • zak
    Feb 18, 2015 - 10:23PM

    Enemies of humanity carried out attack.these anti state and anti islam will be brought to justice both in this world and hereafter.Recommend

  • salman
    Feb 18, 2015 - 10:52PM

    These are revenges attack after hanging of LeJ militants by the Govt. Frequency of such attacks will gonna increase only. All Imam Barghas should be secured with adequate entry check measures infact people should stop visiting these places for a while.Recommend

  • Ali
    Feb 18, 2015 - 11:42PM

    seriously……..when someone will realize that this is not the death of one or more people. these are the deaths of a whole family. what if the person dead is the only hope of his family? we have become so dumb (in assessing this as shia & sunni or other so called factors you name it) that we have stopped realizing that it’s the death of a human. Can’t we just stand up for the victims as human being? Recommend

  • Rahul
    Feb 18, 2015 - 11:43PM

    Even in India, whichever town has 50-50 Shia-Sunni population, they fight with each other. In towns where there is 1 dominant sect, Shia or Sunni, they fight with the Hindus. This is the reality.Recommend

  • Jawad U Rahman
    Feb 19, 2015 - 12:17AM

    Mr Sharif (either one), please annihilate Jundullah and its supporters. Now !Recommend

  • Feb 19, 2015 - 1:03AM

    @salman:
    There have been attacks well before this one targeting the Shia Muslim community regardless of the current executions, so its not simply revenge but a hateful violent ideology of these militants indulging in an ongoing systematic sectarian cleansing besides other religo-political terrorism. Not visiting these places, including mosques on Friday prayers, will not end this extremism which has also adopted other forms, such as target killings and other bombings and attacks such as in Lahore. The culprits must be caught as well as pro-active security and deradicalization, such as arresting hate groups and individuals, like those protesting the other day and the Laal Masjid cleric. The state is failing.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 19, 2015 - 1:28AM

    @zara: “there was a news that indian media said chinese president isnt pak visiting but chinese officials refuted. Just sharing”

    Indian media never said that Xi is not visiting Pakistan ever. It said that Xi is unlikely to visit Pakistan next month for the Pakistan day parade. What the Chinese spokesperson said (dates are worked out for Xi’s visit) does NOT contradict that. In fact it confirms that. After all, Pakistan day is fixed. If Xi was going to be he chief guest then, there would be o question aout working out the dates – the dates would be already finalised. The question of working out dates arises only if he is not visiting on Pakistan day. Please do not go by headline. Read the entire news before you comment.Recommend

  • jay
    Feb 19, 2015 - 1:57AM

    @zara: oh so now ur conspiracy brain is working over time. Soon comments will start pouring about Indian hand…. back to work from tomorrow, a nation which trembles to call a shia worship place as mosque, will suffer many such acts of death.

    Zak@ dnt get emo, ur providing mere lip service just like the politican do. What r you doing to change the situation? Zero!

    Inqalab@ did the Martians elect this govt? If its the worst govt, it’s ur stupidly that u guys elected them. Cursing th now is cursing the ppl of pak

    Ahmed@ so USA gets, bombed on 911 n shia- sunni divide appeared? U need to learn history.

    Dnt know if karma has teeth, but it surely bites backRecommend

  • Feb 19, 2015 - 2:12AM

    Very very unfortunate we have to get the menace under controlRecommend

  • Farhan
    Feb 19, 2015 - 6:40AM

    This fire will not be limited to Shias homes only. Silent spectators will also be effected sooner or later.Recommend

  • Siraj Ahmed
    Feb 19, 2015 - 7:05AM

    Nothing has changed even after military takeover. Why is that muslims are not allowed to pray in a Muslim land?Recommend

  • singh
    Feb 19, 2015 - 9:25PM

    Bloodshed in the name of fake wahabi/hanafism. Business as usual. Who is the enemy here?Recommend

More in Pakistan