Suicide attacks in Mohmand kill 104


Sep 8, 2009
GHALANAI: At least 104 people were killed and at least 120 others injured when two explosions ripped through a crowded bazaar in Mohmand Agency on Friday.

The blasts took place at about 9.30am when the Ekkaghund Bazaar was bustling with life. Within minutes, the market area was completely devastated. Bodies of men, women and children were lying all around and some buried in the rubble.

Over 70 shops, houses, vehicles, offices and a police lock-up were destroyed or damaged.

Assistant Political Agent Rasool Khan said the blasts were caused by suicide attacks near his office where a jirga of Utmankhel tribe was under way to chalk out a plan to restore peace in the area.

Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Local Taliban spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand told journalists by phone that the main target was the jirga which had been convened to discuss a plan against Taliban.

According to the assistant political agent, a low-intensity explosion was heard near the administration office which was quickly followed by a powerful blast.

A man on a motorbike was trying to enter the office where the jirga was being held when the first explosion took place, Rasool Khan was quoted as saying.

The second explosion caused widespread devastation in the adjacent commercial area.

A witness said a mini-truck laden with explosives was detonated in the main bazaar.

There was chaos in the area and people rushed to the place to retrieve bodies and injured people trapped under the rubble of shops and houses. They started removing the debris with shovels.

The local administration did not have adequate machinery and other resources to cope with the situation and the injured people and bodies remained under the rubble for several hours. Rescue work was under way till late evening.

The blast left a five-foot wide and four-foot deep crater on the main road. The place was littered with limbs and debris.

Local resident Hassan Ali Jan lost seven members of his family — five women and two children — when their house collapsed.

Witnesses said a number of people waiting in front of an office of the National Database and Registration Authority were also injured.

About 40 detainees escaped after the police lock-up was damaged.

"As I came out of the APA's office, the explosion rocked the bazaar. Darkness engulfed the place and it took me quite some time to recover from the shock," another resident, Gohar Ali, said.

His father who was in the Nadra office was injured.

Ambulances were rushed from Peshawar to take the injured to hospitals — 70 of them were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital, several of them in critical condition.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack, but did not visit the injured in the hospital.

"This cowardly attack has exposed the true face of the terrorists who are brutal, savage and anti-Islam," a handout quoted him as saying.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain visited the hospital and inquired about the injured people.

"It was like Qiyamat," Sher Afzal of Ekkaghund told Dawn at the hospital. People were grieving over the loss of relatives.

LRH's Chief Executive Hameed Khan Afridi told journalists that three injured men and a woman had died in the hospital.

Mohmand Agency's Political Agent Amjad Ali Khan visited the place of the attack and announced Rs100,000 compensation for relatives of each of the dead and Rs50,000 for the injured.

AFP adds: Local official Maqsood Ahmed said: "A function was held at an office to distribute wheelchairs. A lot of people had gathered outside the office." He said the suicide bomber drove into the people queueing for wheelchairs and blew himself up.

Zulfiqar Ali of Dawn's Peshawar Bureau contributed to the report

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