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8 killed as blast rocks Tableeghi Markaz in Peshawar

17 January, 2014

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PESHAWAR: Eight persons were killed and more than 60 injured when a bomb went off during Maghrib prayers inside the jam-packed mosque in the Tableeghi Markaz near Shami Road in Hassan Garhi on Thursday.

Eyewitnesses said the blast occurred when the second rakat of the Maghrib prayers was being offered. Those killed in the blast included Azim Khan of Ittehad Colony in the city and his 10-year-old son Ismail, Arsala Khan of Musazai village near Peshawar and one Umar Gul.

"The blast was triggered by a time-device. Five kilograms explosives were used in the explosion," Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of the Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) Shafqat Malik told our sources.

He said the explosives were concealed in a bag like the ones normally carried by the Tableeghis and was planted on the first floor of the building. "The explosives used in the blast were of fine quality. Such explosives have not been used in the previous blasts. There were no ball bearings mixed with the explosives," he added.

The impact of the blast was felt on the floor and also on the ceiling on the ground floor of the huge complex. Experts said the casualties could have been higher if ball bearings and shrapnel had been used in the explosive device.

The wounded were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital. "Emergency has been declared at the hospitals," said provincial Health Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai.

The injured included Aftab Alam, Naveed Ahmad, Saleem, Shakil, Noorul Huda, Azim, Muhammad Ali, Ahsanullah, Abdul Wahid, Wajid Ali, Mirza Reh, Imtiaz, Inzar Gul, Zahid, Murad Ali, Samiullah, Umar Khan, Faizullah, Abdul Wahab, Fareedullah, Inamullah, Shahzeb, Amjad, Asadullah, Muhammad Taif, Arif, Qari Nasir Shah, Ali Haidar, Shahid Asghar, Noor Jan, Janas, M Faisal, Aizaz Ali, Munsif, M Ilyas, Nadeem, Qari Muhammad Zaki, Zad Khan, Ihsanullah, Kifayatullah, Noorzada, Farhad, Abid, Umar Farooq, Adnan, Qaisar, Sardar Ali, Fazal Rahim, Siraj, Nek Muhammad, Nazar Muhammad, Fazal Rabi, M Zohaib, Ali Haider, Attaullah and Liaqat Ali.

Hundreds of people arrived at the Lady Reading Hospital to provide blood after ambulances shifted the bodies and the wounded there. The response of the blood donors was enthusiastic and quick. Reports said far more blood was donated than needed.

Those who visited the wounded at the hospital included lawmakers and leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Among them were Hamidul Haq, Yasin Khalil and Fazal Ilahi. Former provincial information minister of the Awami National Party Mian Iftikhar Hussain also visited the hospital.

Earlier, there were reports that the explosion was caused by a gas cylinder. However, the police officials later confirmed that explosives were used in the blast. It was felt the explosives were planted earlier and the explosion was caused by using a time-device.

The administration of the Tableeghi Markaz did not allow policemen to enter and examine the site of the blast. The gates of the building were closed following the explosion. Only the BDU personnel and a couple of senior police officers were allowed entry into the Markaz.

There were reports that another bomb was detected at second floor of the markaz in Peshawar and defused. These reports were later confirmed by the BDU.

Thousands of people from all over Peshawar and the nearby towns gather at the Tableeghi Markaz Thursday night to listen to the speeches of prominent religious scholars. The centre for the preachers is a crowded place Thursday evening onwards. The Tableeghis, or Islamic preachers, are also assigned to a particular place for preaching during the weekly gatherings at the markaz.

Tableeghis normally arrange security on their own every Thursday and Saturday evening when thousands of people attend the congregations. A couple of policemen also perform duty outside the Tableeghi Markaz at times.

Several months ago, a similar explosion had taken place at the Tableeghi Markaz in Swat. The explosion had killed and injured scores of people.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the attack. The federal government directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa inspector general of police to prepare a report of the blast.

"Those targeting people offering prayers are enemies of humanity," said Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak in a statement after the blast.

Our correspondents/agencies add: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) condemned the blast and said it has no connection with the blast.

The TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the Taliban have nothing to do with the blast on Tableeghi Markaz. However, he claimed the responsibility of attacks on police in Malakand, Shangla and Mansehra.

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, PTI chairman Imran Khan, PPP patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and MQM Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi condemned the blast on Tableeghi Markaz in Peshawar.

In their separate messages, they expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the blast.They prayed that Almighty Allah rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity.

The president and the prime minister called upon the concerned authorities to ensure that best medical assistance is provided to the injured.Altaf Hussain said it was time that the government and the armed forces arrive at a decision for dealing with the terrorists, who were spilling the blood of innocent people, in a decisive way. Altaf said it would be too late if the decision was not taken soon.Bilawal said all the political forces will have to unite and evolve a joint strategy to eliminate the menace of terrorism.

End.

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