DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Eight persons, including four children, were killed and 24 others sustained injures in an explosion caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Muharram procession here on Saturday.
Police sources said that the IED placed along the route of the procession in Bannu Chungi went off when the processionists were passing through the area.
“The explosives were hidden in the garbage near the road. A remote controlled device was used to trigger the explosion,” an official said while requesting not to be named.
According to bomb disposal unit officials, 10 to 12 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast. The bomb had been locally-made using ball bearings.
The blast took place despite stringent security arrangements put in place to avert any untoward incident in Dera Ismail Khan, declared one of the most sensitive districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to its past history of sectarian strife.
“The mourners were on the way to join the main procession of the ninth Muharram when the blast took place,” an injured mourner said.
Most of the injured were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital in Dera Ismail Khan from where four persons were referred to the Nishtar Medial College in Multan owing to their precarious condition.
The dead were identified as Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Zarin, Rizwan, Talha Nawaz, Kaleem Nawaz, Habib, Muhammad Waseem and Muhammad Yusuf.
Some of the injured included Kifayatullah, Owais, Juma Khan, Muhammad Naveed, Muhammad Azhar, Muhammad Ali, Nauman, Muhammad Sohail, Wahid Nawaz, Shan Ali, Asghar Ali, Syed Abid Hussain, Muhammad Bilal, Dilawar, Abid Hussain, Muhammad Farhan, Rameez Abbas, Ilyas Shah, Shehzad, Waqar, Saad and Mohsin Ali.
A heavy contingent of the police and security forces arrived on the scene after the blast and cordoned off the blast site. The security forces started patrolling the city after the explosion.
There were unconfirmed reports that a heavy exchange of fire took place between the police and some suspected persons after the blast. The police also arrested a suspect.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Dera Ismail Khan Range, Jamilur Rehman also visited the blast site.
The security in Dera Ismail Khan city was further tightened and more cops were deputed along the routes of the Muharram procession after the sabotage act.
The authorities had banned motorcycle riding in Dera Ismail Khan and suspended mobile phone services in an effort to boost security and avert any untoward incident.
The district administration has deputed some 3,500 cops to guard Imambargahs and other sensitive places in the city to ensure the peaceful observance of Muharram.
Dera Ismail Khan city has been divided into six sectors. Eighteen streets, from where Muharram processions would be brought out, have been sealed.
Reuters adds: The bomb was set off by a television remote control device because cellphones were not operational, police said.
The explosion was so powerful that it hurled a young boy onto a rooftop from a street, where a man later carried away half of his body, as a policeman with a bomb detector and residents stood near blood stains.
AFP adds: The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
“We carried out the attack against the Shiite community,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location. “The government can make whatever security arrangements it wants but it cannot stop our attacks.”
The Taliban had dispatched more than 20 suicide bombers across the country for attacks on the minority community, he said.
City police chief Khalid Suhail said the dead children were aged between six and 11 years. “They were young boys,” he said, adding that two of them were brothers.
Online adds: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf have strongly condemned bomb blast in DI Khan.
Expressing grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent lives, the president and PM expressed sympathies with bereaved families and directed the concerned to provide best medical treatment to the injured.
They reiterated resolve of the government to continue its struggle against the militancy till its logical conclusion.
They said that such nefarious acts cannot deter the people and the government in their fight against the scourge of militancy.
APP adds: PML-N President Nawaz Sharif also condemned the bomb blast.
In a statement, he expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and suggested the government to crush terrorists with an iron hand. He said that terrorists are enemy of humanity and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif reiterated government’s resolve to continue its struggle against militancy till its logical end.