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.
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.