Suicide bomber hits CID building in Peshawar
PESHAWAR: Seven police commandos and a Pakistan Army soldier were killed and 46 others injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a police station of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on the University Road early Wednesday.
Among the wounded were around 20 CID personnel and 12 soldiers of the Army. They were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and Combined Military Hospital (CMH) for treatment.
The powerful blast rocked the provincial capital at 4:35 am when most people were asleep or offering morning prayers. Security forces immediately cordoned the area and blocked the University Road for traffic for several hours.
A few nearby buildings were also slightly damaged by the explosion. The windowpanes of several buildings in the vicinity were smashed due to the impact of the blast. People living in the vicinity said four to five houses and a CNG station also suffered damages due to the blast. Rescue work continued for hours after the blast and rubble was rigorously searched for more victims after reports that some cops were missing.
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Liaqat Ali told reporters around 25 policemen were in the CID police station when the suicide bomber hit it with his explosives-laden mini-truck. Replying to queries by the media, he said the attack could be a reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2. He added that the war against terrorism was not over with the al-Qaeda leader’s death since extremists had increased their attacks.
The CID police station building, located on the University Road, caved in as a result of the blast. Several policemen were buried under the rubble and were rescued after hours of hectic effort. The body of one of the slain cops, Asim, was recovered almost 13 hours after the explosion.
“Experts of the bomb disposal unit (BDU) estimated that around 250 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast,” said Ijaz Ahmad, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP)-Operations, Peshawar. He added that security in Peshawar had been beefed up over two weeks ago to cope with increasing security problems.
Some media reports initially said the explosion occurred as a result of a missile attack. The city police chief said the engine of the vehicle used in the bombing had been recovered during the collection of evidence from the spot.
It is being investigated whether the vehicle was able to take the Cantonment route due to a security lapse or if it came from the wrong lane from the Jamrud side. A heavily-guarded barricade of the Army and police has been in place in front of the CID police station for a long time now to check vehicles coming to the Saddar area and the city from the University side, Hayatabad and Jamrud.
The seven policemen killed in the blast were 33-year old Hamid Hussain, Shafqat, 28, Niazur Rahman, 27, Sardar Alam, Asim, Zakir and Imtiaz. The deceased Army soldier was identified as Maqsood Alam of the Special Services Group (SSG).
Funeral prayers for the deceased policemen were offered at the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines in Peshawar. Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Additional IGP Operations Abdul Lateef Gandapur, Additional IG Investigation Tanvirul Haq Sipra, senior cops Abdul Majeed Marwat, Sultan Hanif Orakzai, Amir Hamza Mahsud and Rahmat Khan Mahsud, Commandant Frontier Constabulary Akbar Hoti, DIGs Special Branch Akhtar Ali Shah, Imtiaz Altaf, Ishtiaq Marwat, Mohammad Idrees Khan, CCPO Liaqat Ali, SSP-Coordination Gul Afzal Afridi and SSP-Operations Ijaz Ahmad attended the funeral prayers.
Inspector General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police, Fiaz Ahmad Toru, and Information Minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, visited the hospitals to inquire about the health of the wounded persons.
While commending the courage and professional commitment of the cops, Fiaz Toru said police officers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were writing history with their blood. He said he was proud to be the commander of such a courageous force.
There were media reports that an unknown group, Tanzeem Al-Tauheed Wal-Jihad, had claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they were part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP had threatened attacks to avenge the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a US Special Forces raid in Abbottabad on May 2 and the suicide bombing of the CID police station seems a part of the revenge campaign.
The CID police station had earlier come under attack in April 2004 when three rockets were fired at it. One of the rockets hit the building, killing two policemen and wounding a few others.
The other two rockets landed in the fields of Qamardin Garhi area. The police later claimed to have arrested the criminals involved in the rocket attack but they were later granted bail for lack of evidence. After the attack and because of its location on the University Road, several measures were taken to secure the police station.
The police station is located between the training centre of the SSG and the Peshawar airbase from one side and several military offices as well as the US Consulate General from the other side.
The injured admitted to the LRH and KTH included: Wajid of Lundkhwar in Mardan district, Adnan Shahzad, Mohammad Shahbaz, Umer Khitab of Mansehra, Fazal Rohan, Faqir Shah and Johar Shah of Sardaryab in Charsadda district, Mohammad Rizwan from Nathiagali, Fareed of Kohat, Asmat of Dera Ismail Khan, Sadiq of Mardan, Fareedullah of Peshawar, Sabir, sub-inspector Khitab Gul from Buner, Muzaffar of Pir Bala in Peshawar district, Mohammad Tayyab of Mardan, Shafeeq Hussain of Kohat, Alamgir of Lower Dir, Fawadullah and Aminullah of Tehkal Payan in Peshawar, Toryalay, Ziarat Gul and Sardar of Tajabad (Peshawar) and Salman.
The injured Army soldiers admitted to the CMH Peshawar include Sepoys Amir Sultan, Iqbal Asif, Mushtaq, Nasir Asif and Ashfaq, Lance Naiks Ikram and Shamshad, Naik Maqsood Elahi, a woman identified as wife of Shah Faisal and Lal Zada, stated to be a pensioner.
The wounded policemen under treatment at the CMH were Head Constable Murad Ali, Constables Waheedullah, Abdullah, Shabbir Ahmad, Aziz Ahmad, Behram Khan, Amjid Ali, Muhammad Ismail and Sardar Alam, and a civilian Fazle Hayat.
APP adds from Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek, Acting Chairman Senate Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, Minister for Defence Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Minister for Postal Services Sardar Muhammad Umar Gorgaij have strongly condemned the Peshawar blast.
They said the government and people were determined to defeat terrorism and these gruesome acts would not deter the resolve of the nation that remained united against the terrorists. The leaders prayed to Allah to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity.
The US Embassy in Islamabad also condemned the blast. “We share in the grief of the family and friends of those who were killed and injured,” said a US Embassy statement. “The United States stands by Pakistan in our common cause against terrorists who threaten Pakistan’s peace, prosperity, and sovereignty,” it said.