SWABI: Ten people, including eight Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl workers and two cops, were killed when a suicide bomber exploded himself near the Swabi Interchange on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway minutes before the arrival of the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the spot, official and eyewitnesses said.
Sources said the JUI-F was scheduled to hold a public meeting in the playground of the Government High School, Swabi, and the party workers were told by former provincial education minister Maulana Fazal Ali to receive the party chief at the Swabi Interchange.
The sources said the suicide bomber blew himself up near the gathering of JUI-F workers after the in-charge of the Khunda police post Sardar Ali moved to stop him at 10:45 am. The bomber was riding a motorcycle having no registration number, the sources added.
Eyewitnesses said soon after the explosion, bodies were scattered all around while the injured were seen crying for help.
The injured were rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital, Shahmansoor Hospital Complex and Khunda Civil Hospital in police mobile vans and private vehicles.
Police said the head of the bomber was also recovered and about seven to eight kilograms of explosives were used in the attack.
Police said they had found the student card of the bomber, which identified as Irshad, a resident of Qambarabad area in Khyber Agency.
“We are working on getting more information about the attacker and can’t divulge more details at the moment,” an official said, requesting not to be named.
The sources said that just a minute after the blast, Maulana Fazlur Rehman reached the spot and the party leaders stopped him there and started shifting the injured workers to hospitals.
District Coordination Officer Syed Abdul Jabar Shah said that seven people died on the spot and three more succumbed to injuries either on way to hospitals or at the health facilities. Eight of the injured people were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.
Dr Gul Muhammad, the district health officer, told the media that eight people had been shifted to Peshawar and the death toll might increase as some of the injured were in a serious condition.
The dead were identified as Sub-Inspector Sardar Ali, Constable Akhtar Jan, Said Anwar, Muhammad Saleh, Qaisar Khan, Saqib Nawaz, Mushtaq Hussain, Razwanullah, Abu Bakar and Mushtaq.
The injured referred to the Lady Reading Hospital included Mubarak Ahmad, Abdul Raziq, Muhammad Sardar, Muhammad Bahadur, Shiraz Khan, Sajjad Ahmad, Shah Jehan and Said Qadeem.
It was the second suicide attack in the district. A suicide attacker had targeted the Swabi Police Lines in Shahmansoor on November 1, 2010, killing two cops.
Meanwhile, the JUI-F chief dashed straight to the Khunda, District Headquarters Hospital and Shahmansoor Hospital and met the injured workers and their relatives there.
After the attack, some of the workers proposed that the party should call off the scheduled public meeting but it was decided by their leaders that they would hold the meeting at all costs. However, insiders said that the time of the public meeting was shortened.
In his address, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the JUI-F workers were determined to continue their struggle. He alleged that the prevailing instability across the country and continued the war on terror was the result of wrong policies adopted by the rulers of the country.
It was the first terror incident targeting the JUI-F gathering, considered to have strong backing among the Taliban.
Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti telephoned JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and condemned the suicide attack on the police post near Swabi Interchange that resulted in the death of two police personnel and eight JUI workers.
The chief minister expressed solidarity with Maulana Fazlur Rehman and stated that menace of terrorism would be fought collectively. He prayed for eternal peace for the deceased and speedy recovery of the injured. The chief minister wished long life for Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The JUI chief thanked the chief minister for the gesture.
APP/INP add: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday strongly condemned the Swabi blast in which 10 people lost their lives. The prime minister termed it an inhuman act by the militants who have no regard for human lives or religion.
The prime minister ordered the authorities to provide immediate and best medical facilities to the injured. Interior Minister Rehman Malik also condemned the suicide attack in Swabi and directed the officials concerned to probe the incident.
The United States Embassy in Pakistan also strongly condemned terrorist attack in Swabi District, which killed innocent people and wounded many others. “We offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” said a statement.
The statement said that violent extremists had shown they will attack anyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or ideology, to terrorize the nation.
“The United States will continue to stand with the people and government of Pakistan in working for a peaceful and prosperous future, free from the threat of violent extremism.”