PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber killed 43 people and wounded 52 others in an attack on a funeral prayer for the wife of a volunteer of Qaumi Lashkar in Adezai village near here on Wednesday.
The bomber blew himself up soon after the prayers had begun. It was the second suicide attack on the Lashkar, which has been fighting the Taliban since 2008 in the village, about 35km from Peshawar cantonment.
In Nov 2009, Lashkar’s founder Haji Abdul Malik and 13 others were killed in a blast at Matni.
Peshawar SSP (operations) Ijaz Khan confirmed that it was a suicide blast, but said it was not clear if the bomber was with the mourners or appeared there later.
He said the Lashkar had been supporting law-enforcement agencies for three years in rural areas of Peshawar.
A bomb disposal official said about 8kg explosives and ball bearings had been used in the attack.
An official of the investigation department said that several heads had been found at the site, but the bomber’s head could not be identified.
Peshawar District Coordination Officer Seraj Ahmed said the attack was aimed at eliminating the leadership of the Lashkar.
He said the number of the dead might go up because a few bodies taken away by people were not included in the toll.
Eyewitness Rahim Dad and Tila Mohammad Khan said they had seen the bomber rushing towards the place, calling for delaying the funeral because he wanted to join it.
“We requested the prayer leader to wait for the man and when he joined the second row of the congregation a huge blast took place. We remained unhurt because we were in the last rows.”
They said hundreds of people attended the prayers.
A volunteer security guard Mir Baz Khan was among the dead.
“The bodies of my relatives Ameen Khan and Adnan are missing,” Rahim Dad said.
Dilawar Khan, the head of the Lashkar, said the victims fought for peace and sacrificed their lives for security of the nation.
He said he had informed police about the possibility of an attack but no action was taken.
“I have already informed the government that the peace body will not support law-enforcement agencies if arms, ammunition and ration are not provided to the volunteers,” he said.
Mr Dilawar accused local legislators of the Awami National Party of supporting the militants. The volunteers would have to take steps to protect their families because the government had disappointed them, he added.
He said 47 volunteers had been killed in attacks, encounters and exchange of fire with militants and several others were injured, but the government was yet to compensate their families.
Some of those who died in the funeral attack are: Abdur Rehman (60), Abdul Salam (70), Amin Gul (51), Ayaz Khan (40), Ghulam Mohammad (55), Gul Alam (60), Gul Khan (28), Gul Zada (80), Gul Mast Khan (35), Gul Rehman (80), Habibullah (31), Haji Waris (70), Hayatullah (32), Ibrar (21), Ismail (50), Mohammad Fayyaz (50), Mir Baz Khan (35), Mubarak Khan (26), Murad Khan (52), Musa Khan (42), Naqeebullah (32), Raz Mohammad (22), Said Gul (65), Sanam Gul (60), Shahbaz (30), Sultan Mohammad (70), Taj Mohammad (50), and Waris (42). Six bodies could not be recognised.
The injured were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital.
AFP adds: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani issued a statement condemning the attack and reiterated the government’s “resolve to root out the cancer of terrorism from every nook and corner of the country”.
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