The blast victims’ families and friends express their grief over losing loved ones to an act of senseless violence.
On March 4, Ali Nawaz and his family members were making their way to the home of his bride-to-be for a mayon event. Hailing from Peshawar and surrounding cities, the barat (marriage procession) was expected to be in Islamabad on March 5. Before leaving, Ali Nawaz and his family stopped to offer Friday prayers at Koocha Risaldar, that was targetted by a suicide bomber. According to the police, 64 people lost their lives while over 200 people were seriously injured.
Ali lost nine family members in the deadliest blast of the decade as his wedding celebrations turned into mourning. “Losing nine family members - elders and cousins - in a single day in such a tragic way is an unbearable loss. We are still in shock. Those who came to attend the wedding have left us forever,” laments Ali, adding that Sardar Abid, Sardar Shahid and Sardar Khursheed were also from his neighbourhood.
Ali lost Hussnain, 12, Anees Jaffri, 62, Aneesa Kazmi, 60, Syed Afzaal Ali, 40, Syed Aniq, 30, Sardar Waqar, 65, Akhunzada Mujahid Ali, 47, Akhunzada Mazhar Ali, 46 and Raza Ali, 65, in the blast. Maulana Irshad Hussain Khalili, the imam of the mosque, lost his life as well.
After Kabul fell to the Taliban, Mohsin Shah migrated to Peshawar with his family, seeking stability and better employment opportunities. Seeking a better future for his four daughters and a son, he settled in a rented house in Qissa Khwani Bazaar, close to Koocha Risaldar. He died in the blast. His son Omeed Hamid, 9, was injured and has been admitted for treatment at Lady Reading Hospital. A close friend of the family, Hassan Abas, is attending to Omeed in the hospital.
The remains of Mohsin Shah were taken to Kabul. “We have been living in Peshawar for four months. My husband was the sole provider for the family. He moved us here to save our lives. Instead, we lost him,” says Marzia, Mohsin Shah’s widow.
“Losing nine family members, elders, and cousins in a single day in such a tragic way is an unbearable loss. We are still in shock. Those who came to attend the wedding have left us forever”
Fourteen of the victims were from Kurram district. Aqiq Ali Bangash and his son Faheem Abbas, 7, lost their lives. Bangash was critically injured and succumbed to his injuries three days after the blast.
Sajid Hussain Turi, a member of National Assembly (MNA) from Upper Kurram, says, “in a breach with previous precedent, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister has not announced a compensation package for the martyrs and the injured.” However, Amir Nawaz, the assistant commissioner for Upper Kurram, says that the district administration has provided the details of the victims’ families to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
Asad Ali Bangash, a resident of Upper Kurram, and student of BS in physiotherapy, also lost his life. According to his cousin, Adil Hussain, he had lived in a private hostel and used to go to Koocha Risaldar every Friday for congregational prayers. “He was critically injured in the attack and died the next day. He passed away on his birthday,” laments Adil.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police investigators have identified the suicide bomber and the network behind the blast. The Islamic State’s regional affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the attack using an Afghan suicide bomber.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman and Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Faiz Hameed visited Koocha Risaldar and offered prayers for the departed.
During a media briefing, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for Information and Public Relations Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif and Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Ijaz Khan shared deails about the tragic incident. “We have identified the attacker. With help from intelligence agencies, we will expose the network, and facilitators of the attack over the next 48 hours”, Saif said.
The author is a radio producer. He tweets @daudpasaney