PESHAWAR: Terror revisited the provincial capital on Friday shattering a year and half long calm and bringing back the scenes of gloom.
A powerful suicide blast ripped through the crowded Jamia Masjid Koocha Risaldar in labyrinthine streets of the old city drowning the residents in a sea of grief.
The bomber first killed the policeman deployed at the imambargah’s main gate and then entered the premises to blow himself up inside the main hall, where a large number of worshippers were offering Jumma prayer.
Koocha Risaldar is located just a stone’s throw away from Qissa Khwani, the street of storytellers, in the heart of the old city.
Moving scenes were seen in Qissa Khwani as the people shifted the injured to the hospital.
CM orders security of religious places; lawyers to observe strike today
Women mourned their dead relatives in the narrow streets, while pall-bearers carried coffins of their kin to homes from the nearby Lady Reading Hospital. Almost all of them were in tears as relatives and friends tried to calm distressed relatives.
Soon after the news of the bomb blast spread in the area, the people, including women, rushed towards the mosque in large numbers to inquire about the well-being of their family members, who had gone there to offer Jumma prayer. The panicked people ran in the narrow alleys leading to the place of the terrorist attack.
The situation was no different in the Lady Reading Hospital, a major public sector hospital located close to the bombed mosque. The people moved among the bodies and injured identifying their relatives.
Every house located in the vicinity of imambargah and in the nearby streets was in mourning as the residents either lost one or two members or had members seriously injured in the bomb blast.
Noted writer Mukhtar Ali Nayyar’s son Akhundzada Mujahid Ali Akber and his cousins, including Akhundzada Ali Hassan and Akhundzada Mazhar Ali Mumtaz, also fell prey to the attack.
Another tragic scene was witnessed in the hospital, where volunteers of the Edhi Foundation took away empty coffins from a loaded pick-up van. The bodies were later placed in coffins and transported to the houses of the deceased.
The last major terrorist attack was also carried out in a mosque in Dir Colony on Oct 27, 2020, killing eight students and injuring around 120 injured as a timed device went off on the premises, where a large number of seminarians were attending a class.
Of late, apart from targeted killing of police personnel and ambushes on security forces, major acts of terrorism had subsided amid relative calm in the province.
Meanwhile, the Imamia Jirga Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, local elders and religious scholars decided that the mutilated bodies would be laid to rest at night, while the last rites of the other deceased would be held on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the provincial government held an emergency meeting to review security situation after the suicide bomb attack.
The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and attended by provincial ministers, chief secretary, police chief, and senior civil and military officials.
The chief minister was briefed about the security situation and other affairs of the province. Mr Mahmood directed police and other law-enforcement agencies to arrest the culprits.
He also ordered effective measures to prevent such attacks and ensure the security of all religious places.
The chief minister said the authorities should be vigilant about the activities of anti-state elements.
Also, the KP Bar Council announced a complete strike in courts across the province for today (Saturday) to show solidarity with the families, who lost members in the mosque bombing. Chairman of the Executive KP Bar Council Mohammad Ilyas Khan and vice-chairman Mohammad Ali Khan Jadoon condemned the mosque bombing, which claimed the life of lawyer Agha Ghzanfar Ali as well.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2022