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GUJRAT: An attempt to blow up a railway track between Islamabad and Lahore near Jhelum was foiled on Thursday morning when a terrorist blew himself up after he had been challenged by Motorway police personnel.

A Lahore-bound rail car was to pass through the area after about half an hour when some passersby spotted the man acting suspiciously at the place.

According to people, a shepherd looking after his herd confronted the suspect with questions relating to his whereabouts. The terrorist who was about 30 years old and dressed in blue jeans said he worked for a secret agency, but the shepherd who was not satisfied with the answer called a Motorway police team which was patrolling the area.

The terrorist — whose grey colour Mehran car was parked nearby — lobbed grenades at the police team. But more vehicles of Motorway police reached there. Police opened fire and asked him to surrender. Finding no way to escape, the man blew himself up.

A team of the Punjab police from Jhelum reached the place, along with Jhelum’s District Police Officer Mujahid Akbar Khan and District Coordination Officer Zulfiqar Ahmed Ghumman.

Thirteen hand-grenades, 17 detonators, a Kalashnikov, three pistols, a safety fuse and a remote control were found in the terrorist’s car.

Since Bomb Disposal Squad personnel were not available in Jhelum, a squad from Chakwal was called and the explosives were defused.

According to sources, law-enforcement personnel found two national identity cards at the place bearing the same name but with different addresses – one of Sara-i-Alamgir, Gujrat district, and the other of Jhelum.

The body of the terrorist was taken to the Jhelum district headquarters hospital for autopsy.

Mohammad Asghar adds from Rawalpindi: A source close to an investigation team told Dawn that the bomber had been identified as Uzair Ahmed, an engineering student.

He had lived with his parents in R.A Bazar area of Rawalpindi and his father was associated with PTCL. The family later shifted to Ghori Town in Islamabad where he joined a private engineering university in 2010. Investigators were unable to say if he had completed his education.

“Intelligence agencies suspect the bomber may be associated with Daesh (Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group), but it is yet to be confirmed,” a senior security official said.

Jhelum DPO Mujahid Akbar said the suspect was a religious-minded person, adding that his family claimed that they had disowned him a few years ago.

A bomb disposal official said the suspect had a few words with Motorway police personnel before blowing himself up. “Keep away from me as I am going to heaven” was his last sentence.

APP adds: Pakistan Railways Chief Executive Officer Javaid Anwar Boobak said in a statement that a small portion of the track was affected and repair work had been started. The train operation was not disturbed.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2016