MINGORA / LAKKI MARWAT, Feb 29: At least 38 people lost their lives when a suicide attacker blew himself up in Mingora on Friday during the funeral of a senior police officer who had been killed hours earlier in Lakki Marwat.

Deputy Superintendent Police Javed Iqbal and three constables were killed in the roadside bomb blast in Lakki Marwat, some 300 kilometres south of Mingora.

Doctors at the District Headquarters Hospital in Saidu Sharif put the death toll in the suicide attack at 36, but, DSP Mingora City Kiramat Khan told Dawn that 30 bodies had been counted.

He said that SHO Habib Zaman, Sub-Inspector Mohammad Rehman and Naib Nazim Habibullah of union council Malukabad, Mingora, were among the dead. Forty others were injured.

Close relatives of the slain DSP, including his son and brother-in-law and local journalist Sirajuddin were among those killed in the funeral attack. A week earlier, 14 people had been killed in an attack on a bridal party in Swat.

Witnesses said the suicide attack took place when a police party was presenting a gun salute in honour of the slain police officer in a school ground in Mingora town at about 8pm. Hundreds of people took part in the funeral.

“After the funeral prayers when the police party was offering the gun salute, a loud explosion took place,” eyewitnesses said.

District Police Officer Waqif Khan said the bomber was among the people taking part in the funeral.

Officials feared the death toll might rise because some of the injured people in the city’s main hospital were in a critical condition.

Eyewitnesses said that some people from the nearby area had taken the bodies of their relatives to their homes, instead of taking them to the hospital.

After the explosion, the administration imposed a night curfew in Swat. Local people complained that the curfew was hindering the rescue work and they were not being allowed to go to the hospital to donate blood.

They said they could neither meet the injured nor get the bodies of their relatives.

However, the hospital staff said that there was adequate quantity of blood in the hospital.

The blast in which DSP Javed was killed took place on the muddy road near the police lines in Lakki Marwat.

The DSP Lakki Circle was going to office from his house in the Railway Colony Building when his vehicle struck the bomb planted by unknown militants. The police officer and his driver died on the spot. Two injured constables succumbed to their injuries while being taken to Peshawar from the Lakki City hospital.

Police and eyewitnesses said the official jeep had been blown to bits as it struck the bomb near the Police Lines.

“It may be a remote-controlled bomb,” said the officials. The body of the police officer was sent to his native town in Swat for burial.

No one had so far claimed responsibility for the explosion or the suicide attack till late in the night. Security was beefed up in the district after the bomb attack.

NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani and caretaker Chief Minister Shamsul Mulk have expressed grief over the loss of innocent lives in the blast and the suicide attack.

A handout issued in Peshawar said that the provincial government had announced Rs100,000 for each of the deceased and Rs50,000 for each wounded.

The chief minister condemned the attack and termed it the ‘worst act of barbarism’. Mr Mulk directed the health department to provide the best possible treatment to the wounded.

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