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February 14, 2017

13 martyred in Lahore suicide attack

Top Story

February 14, 2017

DIG Capt Mobin Zaidi, SSP Zahid Gondal among victims; more than 80 injured, initial investigation suggests senior police officials were targeted during protest staged by medical store owners; Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claims responsibility; Punjab govt announces one-day mourning

LAHORE: DIG City Traffic Police Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin Zaidi and Acting DIG (Operations) Zahid Gondal were among the six police officials martyred in a deadly suicide blast outside the Punjab Assembly on Monday evening. In all, a total of 13 persons lost their lives and 80 others were injured.

Several vehicles were also destroyed and windowpanes of nearby buildings smashed in the blast.Meanwhile, three persons were killed in a South Waziristan blast and two were killed in a Dera Bugti blast.

In Lahore, the suicide bomber targeted the senior police officials who were busy in holding final dialogue with theof Punjab Medical Stores Association and the Chemist and Druggist Association to clear the Mall Road for traffic.

The outlawed Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, naming DIG Mobin as an official of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in a statement issued to journalists. The suicide bomber could have targeted the over 1,500-strong crowd of protesters but he went after the senior police officials, especially DIG Mobin and SSP Gondal.

Officials of traffic police and Elite Police were also among the martyred policemen, while some media representatives also sustained injuries. The experts said the suicide jacket weighing 8-10 kg, which contained explosives and shrapnel, was used in the terror strike, creating a huge impact in a crowded place.

The activists of Drugs Dealers Association, most of them labourers, were protesting at Faisal Chowk (commonly known as Charing Cross) outside the Punjab Assembly against the newly-introduced drugs rules since noon. They had blocked the Mall Road for every kind of traffic for six hours.

CCPO Amin Wains, DIG Mobin, SSP Gondal and other police officials held talks with their leaders, which proved successful. Afterwards, the CCPO left the place just minutes before the suicide attack, while DIG Mobin and SSP Gondal were trying to convince the protesters to disperse by removing trucks placed for leaders as a stage so that the road could be opened for traffic.

The CCTV footage and the eyewitnesses’ account show that a suspected person approached the police officials at around 6:10 pm and exploded himself. As a result, DIG Mobin, SSP Gondal and some of the protesters received fatal injuries. They were rushed to hospitals where doctors pronounced 13 of them as brought dead.

Over 80 others received injuries add were shifted to different hospitals, including Ganga Ram Hospital, Mayo Hospital and Jinnah Hospital, where the condition of 15 of them was stated to be critical.

The suicide attack created panic as the protesters fled the scene fearing a second blast. Some vehicles and bikes, including a DSNG van of Aaj News, caught fire and gutted in the explosion. The bombing was captured live by the cameramen of electronic media who were busy in the coverage of speeches of the Drugs Dealers Association’s leaders. Most of the media persons escaped unhurt.

Soon after the blast, Rescue 1122, Edhi, fire brigade and other rescue services rushed to the scene. The rescuers said the crime scene was littered with blood and the limbs of victims. An eyewitness said he was busy listening to the speeches of his leaders when all of a sudden a blast occurred.

Another eyewitness said he was standing behind the Aaj News DSNG van at time of blast, which caught fire within seconds as thick smoke filled the area. He received a number of pellet injuries in his back and on other parts of the body.

The officials of law enforcement agencies, ISI, MP, Rangers, IB and CTD reached the scene and cordoned off the area. The experts of Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) collected forensic evidence, while the suicide attacker’s head had also been found.

Lahore GOC Maj Gen Tariq Aman, DG Rangers and senior officials of Rangers and police also visited the blast site. The intelligence agencies started geo-fencing of the area to round up the facilitators of terrorists. Two suspects were also taken into custody from the crime scene.

Further investigations are underway, while no case had been registered till the filing of this report. Punjab IG Mushtaq Sukhera said the gunman of DIG Mobin tried to stop bomber but he exploded the suicide jacket.

CTD SP Dr Iqbal said initial investigations suggested that the officials of law enforcement agencies were the target, adding that they had sent evidence to PFSA whose report would suggest about nature of explosives.

Similarly, Home Minister Rana Sanaullah, talking to media, said initial investigation showed that the bomber targeted the police officials.

The statement issued by Asad Mansoor, the spokesperson of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, says the attack was carried out by Nasrullah alias Zabihullah. He also warned the law enforcers of more attacks, “Just keep in mind these attacks and blasts are just the start of ‘Operation Ghazi’.”

It is worth mentioning that NACTA had issued threat alert for the provincial metropolis on February 7 after which snap checking and search operations were boosted. However, the police once again lessened patrolling and snap checking during the last two days which resulted in the tragedy in the high security zone.

The investigators are of the view the bomber had targeted senior police officials to create a big impact on the law enforcers and sabotaging the PSL final scheduled to be held in Lahore.

In a strong reaction to the suicide bombing, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the attacks would not weaken the country’s resolve in fight against militancy. "We have fought this fight against the terrorists among us, and will continue to fight it until we liberate our people of this cancer, and avenge those who have laid down their lives for us," the prime minister said in a statement.

Similarly, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa instructed local army commander and intelligence agencies to provide all necessary assistance to civil administration for shifting injured to hospitals and apprehend those responsible for this heinous act.

The Punjab government announced a one-day mourning, as Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said, “We equally share the grief of the bereaved families of the martyrs and the entire nation is standing with them in this hour of distress.”

The chief minister, who also sought a report from the provincial police chief, the sacrifices of brave officials of Punjab Police, martyred during performance of their duties, would not go to waste, adding that the brutal elements targeting innocent people didn’t deserve any leniency.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PTI chief Imran Khan, ANP head Asfandyar Wali, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Siraj-ul-Haq, Shia leaders Allama Sajid Ali Naqvi, Agha Hamid Ali Moosavi and other political leaders too condemned the bombing, terming it as a cowardly act.

  Meanwhile, according to a report from Wana three Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were martyred in an explosion in Zarmelan area of South Waziristan Agency on Monday.

The FC soldiers who were critically injured last night in an IED blast during cordon and search operation embraced shahadat, says an ISPR statement. Authorities said that the explosives were planted by the side of the road.

Soon after the blast security forces launched search operation in the area to nab terrorists. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday strongly condemned the bomb blast in South Waziristan that resulted in martyrdom of three FC personnel.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Iqbal Zafar Jhagra condemned the incident saying the war against terrorism will reach its conclusion. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also expressed sorrow and grief over the martyrdom of the three FC personnel.

Meanwhile, according to a report from Quetts two persons were killed and one injured in a landmine blast in Dera Bugti town, Monday. According to Levies sources a water tanker was on its way when it hit the planted landmine beside the road.




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