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Charsadda blast toll rises to 31

April 30, 2007

CHARSADDA/PESHAWAR, April 29: The death toll from Saturday’s suicide attack in Charsadda rose to 31 on Sunday and 15 of the injured, including three policemen, were said to be in a critical condition, according to police and hospital sources.

Investigators said Russian-made explosive material had been used in the attack on a public meeting addressed by Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao. The head of the suicide bomber found at the site was taken to Peshawar for DNA tests on Sunday.

Charsadda district police officer Feroz Shah told Dawn that high-intensity MVU type explosive had been used in the bomb.

“Investigators have found pieces of the suicide bomber’s jacket and recovered specimen of the explosives,” the DPO said. He said two badly mutilated bodies lying in the district hospital had not been identified.Funeral prayers for the victims were held in different areas of the district on Sunday. Mr Sherpao and federal Minister for Information Mohammad Ali Durrani also attended the prayers.

AIG Fiaz Ahmad Khan Toru, who is heading the investigating team, said in Peshawar they had collected forensic evidences from the blast site and DNA tests on parts of the body of the suspect suicide attacker were being conducted.

“At this moment we cannot say that it had a link with previous explosions and terrorist attacks. We are moving in a scientific way,” he said.

He said preliminary findings had revealed that the suspect bomber appeared to be from a hilly area, but it could not be said with certainty if he was an Afghan or Uzbek.

Mr Toru said intelligence was being gathered from various quarters and assistance of other law-enforcement agencies could be sought if needed.

Minister Durrani told journalists in Peshawar that the Special Investigation Group was cooperating with the provincial police.

He said maintenance of law and order was the responsibility of the provincial government and assured that the centre would provide all possible support to the province in this regard.

People in the Charsadda town, particularly residents of Station Koroona where the incident took place, were in a state of shock and moving scenes were seen during the funerals. Many residents blamed students of seminaries and extremist groups for the blast.

“These people (seminary students) are the root cause of the problem,” said a grief-stricken resident of Station Koroona.

Other people said extremists were warning people against sending their girls to schools and forcing traders to close their music shops, but the government did not take any action.

One of the victims, Habibullah, 22, had gone to the public meeting with an application to request the interior minister to get his father’s sentence commuted, according to his relatives.

Police said 33 injured, including four policemen, had been shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar from Charsadda.

An official said some injured security personnel escorting the interior minister were taken to Islamabad on Sunday.