PESHAWAR: Fourteen persons were killed and more than 30 sustained injuries when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Madrassa Arif Hussaini, Gulshan Colony, Grand Trunk Road, just ahead of the Friday prayers.
Sources said three attackers stormed the seminary named after Allama Arif Hussain al-Hussaini, the late central president of the Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan who was also killed at the same premises several years ago, and shot dead a guard before one of the attackers forced his entry into the mosque inside the building and blew himself up at around 1:35pm.
The other two attackers exchanged fire with two policemen deployed at the main gate and escaped after the blast.“Three attackers opened fire on the guards at the main gate after which the suicide bomber entered the mosque and blew himself up in the hall where the people were waiting to offer prayers,” said Superintendent of Police (SP) Rural Peshawar, Shafiullah Khan.
He said two attackers managed to escape into the urban locality near Gulbahar amid an exchange of fire with the policemen. He said a search had been launched to apprehend them.
A state of emergency was declared at the Lady Reading Hospital where the wounded and bodies were shifted after the blast. Some relatives and rescue workers were seen carrying the wounded children in their laps while rushing to the Accident and Emergency Department of the LRH.
Those killed in the blast were identified as Syed Jan Hussain, Syed Ahmad, Amir Ali, Tehzeeb, Wahid Hussain, Syed Ali Ahmad, Syed Murtaza, Muhammad Zaman, Muhammad Daud, Alamdar, Mehdi and Anwar Hussain.
Those killed in the blast included 11-year-old Syed Mehdi, a grandson of Allama Arif Hussaini, who had returned from Iran only a few days back.Those wounded in the blast were identified as Syed Nazak Hussain, Mehdi, Raza, Haroon, M Musa, Syed Raza, Syed Jaffar, M Hakimeen, Ziyad, Ibrahim, Hamza Ali, Aqeel Hussain, Shaukat Ali, Ghulam Habib, Tajdar, Ismail, Syed Anwar, Asghar, Hassan Dad, Mujahid Hussain, Didar Hussain, Rehmat Gul, Ghulam Ali and Hassan Raza.
Those killed and wounded included people from Gilgit, Orakzai Agency, Kohat and other parts of the country who were in the mosque to offer the Friday prayers. The seminary is one of the main centres of the Shia community in Peshawar.
“Around 60 people were present inside the mosque as the Friday sermon was about to begin. Most of those killed and wounded were minor students of the seminary, including the grandson of Arif Hussaini,” said Imdad Ali Qazilbash, a leader of the local Shia community who was on his way to the mosque for Friday prayers when the bomber detonated explosives around his vest.
The prayer leader of the mosque, Abid Shakiri, said there was not much security to protect the seminary and the mosque for the Friday prayers.Eyewitnesses said the suicide bomber was wearing black clothes and a bracelet to dodge the guard. The legs and arms of the bomber, said to be in his early 20s, were found and sent to the laboratory for tests.
“No provincial minister or elected assembly member bothered to visit the seminary unlike the late ANP leader and minister Bashir Bilour who used to reach the bombing sites. We had to shift our martyrs and wounded persons to hospital in our own vehicles because the rescue officials arrived quite late,” Imdad Ali Qazilbash added.
According to the bomb disposal unit (BDU) experts, around seven kilograms of explosives were used in the blast. He said large number of pellets used in the blast badly damaged the mosque.
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shaukatullah, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Deputy Speaker Javed Abbasi, ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan and Quaid-e-Millat Jafariya Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi condemned the attack on the mosque and seminary.
In their separate messages, they expressed sympathy with the victims. 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.
Meanwhile, tribal elders and members of the Markazi Qaumi Anjuman and Anjuman-e-Hussainia in Kurram Agency condemned the blast and announced a three-day mourning in the tribal agency.
A protest was held in the Kurram Agency by the tribal elders against the gory incident. The protesters demanded of the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to take prompt action against the terrorists and enhance security of Imambargahs in Peshawar.