PESHAWAR: Five worshippers were killed and 28 others wounded when a bomb exploded inside a mosque near the famous Meena Bazaar in the heart of the city on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses and officials said the bomb was planted at the Mehrab, the place where the peshimam leads the prayers, of Bilal Masjid in Mohallah Baqir Shah at the back of the Meena Bazaar. It went off when the faithful were offering the Zuhr prayers.
Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Shafqat Malik, also the head of the bomb disposal unit (BDU), told reporters almost four kilograms of explosives were used in the explosion. “The explosives were triggered through a remote controlled device,” said Shafqat Malik, adding that ball bearings had also been added to the explosives to cause maximum casualties.
Four men, including the prayer leader, died on the spot. At least 29 others were injured in the explosion that occurred at around 1:15pm.Superintendent of Police (SP) City Khalid Hamdani told reporters that four people were killed in the blast while over 29 others were wounded. However, doctors said one of the wounded succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.
Four of those killed in the blast were identified as Ilyas Khan, Muhammad Bashir, Jan Muhammad and Qari Shah Hussain, the prayer leader.
The injured included Abid, Amir, Ameeruddin, Arif Hussain, Asif, Ayaz, Bilal Faheem, Fayyaz, Ghulam Hussain, Haider Ali, Nasir, Humayun, Iqbal, Irfan, Ashfaq, Farooq, Shafi, Noman, Qasim, Rifaqat, Sabir, Shahid, Shakeel, Suleman, Ziauddin and Haroon.
Heavy police contingents cordoned off the area after the blast while the Rescue 1122 personnel and locals shifted the victims to the Lady Reading Hospital where a state of emergency was declared.
The blast partially damaged the mosque. Boundary walls of the mosque building developed cracks and the ceiling fans were twisted under the impact of the blast. The windowpanes of the nearby plazas and houses were also smashed.
The walls and prayer mats of the mosque were stained with blood. Around 40 people were said to be present in the mosque when the bomb went off.
The residents said a person entered the mosque and placed the luggage he was carrying near the mehrab. Eyewitnesses said he pretended as if he was going for ablution to prepare for the prayers. However, this person managed to go outside the mosque and soon triggered the explosives to cause the blast.
The trade centres, including Meena Bazaar, Shaheen Bazaar and Koochi Bazaar, were closed immediately after the explosion as the shopkeepers and traders panicked. Hundreds of women busy in shopping left for their homes. Meena Bazaar is popular with women shoppers. The traders also announced a three-day mourning over the incident.
It was learnt that the investigators recovered the cell-phone which was used to trigger the blast and efforts were launched to retrieve the data from the device.The police are investigating as to how someone managed to enter the mosque and place explosives in the presence of worshippers in the crowded urban locality.
On October 28, 2009, at least 137 people were killed and over 200 others wounded in a devastating car bombing near Meena Bazaar.Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shaukatullah, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti and others condemned the blast and directed the authorities to take maximum care of those injured in the explosion.
APP adds: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf strongly condemned the bomb blast in Peshawar.In their separate messages, they said such heinous acts clearly reflected that those behind such acts have no respect for the sanctity of religious places. They reiterated that the government and the people of Pakistan cannot be deterred by such cowardly acts and would continue their fight against militancy till its logical conclusion.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.