RAWALPINDI: At least 20 mourners, including two minors, were killed and more than 30 critically wounded when a suicide blast ripped through a mourning procession taken out from the Imambargah Qasar-e-Shabbir in Dhok Syedan on Misrial Road here on Wednesday night.
The Pindi blast occurred when the procession was proceeding towards the Imambargah at 11.28 pm. The suicide bomber blew himself up when security personnel intercepted him close to the procession, eyewitnesses said.
Some participants of the procession, however, said that the mourning was about to end when the suicide bomber entered the procession without any resistance and blew himself up.The sound of the blast was so loud that it was heard miles away from the scene.
Hospital sources said that three police personnel and five children were among the injured, adding that the death toll could rise.A hand grenade was also found lying near the procession, the sources said, adding that the police with the help of army troops cordoned off the area to avoid any follow-up attack on the procession.
Volunteers shifted the wounded and dead to the District Headquarters, Cantonment, Combined Military, Benazir Bhutto and other hospitals of the city where the condition of more than nine persons was declared critical, rescue sources said.
City Police Officer (CPO) Azhar Hamid Khokhar, while talking to media persons, confirmed that it was a suicide attack. He said that security has been further beefed up to protect processions during the holy month of Muharram.
Only six police personnel were deployed at the Imambargah to protect the mourning procession, the participants claimed.Shia leader Maulana Ameen Shaheedi, while talking to the media, said that at least 16 mourners were killed during the attack.
Angry participants of the procession said that poor security caused the bloodshed. The people staged a protest demonstration to register their anger. They claimed that the security arrangements were not enough to provide protection to the mourners and alleged that the police personnel were not properly checking the suspicious from joining the procession.Army helicopters continued to conduct aerial surveillance after the incident.Remains of the suicide bomber have been shifted to a hospital for a DNA test.
APP adds: Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned bomb blast in Rawalpindi resulting in loss of precious lives and injuring many.
The president sought a report of the incident from the concerned officials.According to a handout, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif also condemned the blast and expressed deep sense of grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives.
Senate Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari and Deputy Chairman Sabir Ali Baloch strongly condemned the bomb blast in Quetta.The leader of the House in the Senate Jahangir Badr and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Mohammad Ishaq Dar also condemned the incident.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemned the blast in Quetta and expressed his grief over the loss of lives and injuries to many people.A press release adds: Meanwhile, Quaid-e-Millat-e-Jafariya Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi condemned the bomb blasts in Karachi and Quetta.