SUKKUR/HYDERABAD: A powerful suicide blast ripped through a Muharram procession in Lashari Muhalla in Jacobabad, killing 22 people, mostly children, and injuring more than 40 others on Friday.
The town was handed over to the army soon after the tragic incident. An emergency was declared in all hospitals of the town and announcements were made through mosques and Imambargahs for donation of blood.
While the processions taken out to pay homage to martyrs of Karbala concluded peacefully in major cities and towns, the carnage in Jacobabad which followed a similar tragic incident in the Bolan district of Balochistan a day earlier marred the performance of law-enforcement agencies which had made adequate security arrangements across the country.
According to sources, the mourning procession was returning from Shershah-Jo-Per to Quetta Road in Lashari Muhalla when the suicide attack took place, causing suspension of electricity supply to the entire area.
Pieces of human flesh were lying all over the place.
Sixteen of those killed in the blast were identified as Ali Raza Lashar, 26; Nisar Ahmed Brohi, 10; Mashooq Ali Sarmastani, 9, and his brother Mohammad Qasim; Habibullah Jatoi, 30; Lal Dino, 25, and his brother Zahid Hussain Jakhrani; Aqsa, 6, and her 18-month-old sister Saba; Ali Raza Mughal, 10; Sikandar Ali Shaikh, 9, and his brother Asghar Ali Shaikh, 7; Sajjad Ali, 8, and his brother Farman Ali (nephews of a leader of the Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party); Mohammad Ali Talani and Niaz Jakhrani.
The dead and the injured were taken to the Civil Hospital and the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences, where condition of some of the injured was stated to be critical.
The entire Jacobabad town was in grip of grief and anger because of the killing of innocent children and was completely shut down.
Although emergency was declared in hospitals, there were reports that doctors and paramedical staff were not available there because of which some seriously injured people succumbed to their injuries. The situation led to a protest and ransacking of one of the hospitals by angry activists of different Shia organisations.
The Jacobabad PPP’s General Secretary, Mir Liaqat Lashari, visited the place and ordered shifting of the injured to the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences.
The town’s DC Chowk turned into a battlefield when Jacobabad SSP Malik Zafar Iqbal Awan arrived there to talk to Shia leaders. The protesters pelted his car with stones and blocked his way.
Police fired shots in the sky and used teargas to disperse the protesters who also returned fire. Mohammad Sharif, a Wapda employee, was reportedly killed in police firing.
Three officials of the Sukkur Electric Power Company were attacked with knives because of non-supply of power and four vehicles of the company were set on fire.
The protesters also set ablaze the main gate of DC office and burnt tyres on different roads of the town.
The angry people thrashed DSP City Rana Nasrullah in Civil Hospital and tore up his uniform. He took shelter in the hospital mosque.
SSP Malik Zafar Iqbal said the blast was a suicide attack.
Police and intelligence agencies took parts of the body of the bomber into custody.
The head of the bomber was not found.
According to the sources, the bomber was about 20 years old and a pistol was found fastened on the back of his body. A wire was also found attached to his legs and one hand.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah ordered the dispatch of an air ambulance to Jacobabad so that the critically injured could be brought to Karachi.
Denouncing the terrorist attack, the Shia Ulema Council announced protests to be held in Karachi and other cities and towns of Sindh on Saturday.
The Jacobabad SSP told Dawn over phone in the night that the blast occurred on a 6ft wide street. It was a small procession.
DG Health Services Dr Hassan Murad Shah said that 12 of the injured were later sent to the PAF Hospital in Jacobabad and two to a hospital in Larkana.
District Health Officer Dr Sawan Sheikh said the district hospital had received 14 bodies.
In was the second deadliest bombing in upper Sindh.
On Jan 30, an explosion at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur killed 61 people and injured over 60 others. Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, demonstrations were held in various towns of Badin district on Friday evening in protest against the Jacobabad bombing.
A PPP MNA and former speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza, former senator Bibi Yasmin Shah, Ismail Rahu, Syed Pappu Shah and Sardar Kamal Chang condemned the attack and called for foolproof security for mourners.
Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2015