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Capt Roohullah Mohmand
Capt Roohullah Mohmand

QUETTA: “`Who is hiding under the charpoy?’ Capt Roohullah had shouted out. His words still ring in my ears,” recalled Abdullah Khan, one among hundreds of recruits trapped inside Quetta’s police training academy, after three gunmen wearing suicide vests had stormed the building on Monday night.

As gunfire raged on outside the barracks, Abdullah and some fellow recruits got huddled under charpoys, waiting to be rescued.

At least 60 people lost their lives and over a hundred others were wounded in what is now being called one of the deadliest militant attacks this year.

“A suicide bomber had entered our room ... he too was hiding under a charpoy. We didn’t know [it] because there was complete darkness and silence there,” the injured recruit said.

As they took cover under the charpoys, Capt Roohullah barrelled his way into the barracks.

“He asked, ‘are you our people?’ He kept asking us the same thing over and over,” said Abdullah. “He had a light in front of his weapon,” he said, which made him indistinguishable.

The recruits thought Roohullah was a suicide bomber calling out to them and remained silent.

But then the young captain identified himself. “We told him that we were from the police, and he asked us to come out. ‘Put your hands up,’ he had said.”

Following instructions all recruits came out from under their beds one by one, except one.

Roohullah noticed it and yelled out, commanding that the person show himself. He moved swiftly across the room and kicked the charpoy over to reveal the attacker, Abdullah said.

Before anyone could make a move, the captain threw himself onto the suicide bomber. Moments later, there was a deafening blast: the attacker had detonated his explosives-laden jacket.

“We don’t know what happened after the blast,” Abdullah said. “I sustained injuries. We were knocked out and came to our senses several minutes later.”

Roohullah Mohmand, 27, was born in Peshawar’s Muradabad area on May 5, 1989.

He was the eldest of four children and has two brothers and one sister. Roohullah appeared in his Matriculation exams from Islamia Collegiate School in 2007 and received a distinction. He completed his FSc from Government Degree College Peshawar in 2009 and won another distinction.

His parents wanted him to become a doctor but he preferred to join the army as it was his passion. He was commissioned by the Pakistan Army in 2012 and he participated in various counterterrorism operations in South Waziristan Agency.

The fallen captain was also part of the operational team during a militant attack on Bacha Khan University, Charsadda, in January 2016.

His father Dr Habibullah Mohmand said Roohullah was going to be married after three months. He remembers Roohullah as “a lovely son”.

On Tuesday, Roohullah was nominated for a Tamgha-i-Jurat by Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif to commemorate his bravery and sacrifice. The captain was performing his duty as an antiterrorism platoon commander at the time he was killed.

The writer works for Dawn News

Published in Dawn October 27th, 2016