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Sectarian, militant attacks jolt nation

November 22, 2012

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Police and Rangers cordon of the area after the bomb blast. — Photo by White Star

The country was rocked on Wednesday by explosions and targeted attacks in main cities in the four provinces, claiming lives of at least 25 civilians and security personnel.

Two of the attacks — one in Rawalpindi and the other in Karachi — were sectarian, targeting Muharram mourners gathered in or near Imambargahs.

At least 14 people were killed and 35 others injured in a suicide attack in Dhoke Syedian area of Rawalpindi.

Two people were killed and at least 12 others injured in twin blasts near an Imambargah in Orangi Town of Karachi. The blasts took place one hour apart.

In Quetta, security personnel who were escorting a van of schoolchildren were hit by a blast. At least three soldiers and two civilians were killed. Twenty-eight people were injured.

Three policemen were killed in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, when gunmen ambushed their van. The assailants also fired on a checkpost, injuring three FC personnel.

Also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a police constable was killed when a bomb placed on a road hit a police van which plunged into a ravine. Two officers and the driver of the van were injured.

According to our reporter Mohammad Asghar, at least 14 people were killed and 35 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Dhoke Syedian area of Rawalpindi on Wednesday night.

The explosion took place after the suicide bomber was intercepted by law-enforcement personnel when he was trying to join a Muharram procession.

The procession, which originated from the house of Manzoor Haider Shah, was heading to Qasr-i-Shabir where it was to culminate.

The death toll could rise as five of the injured are said to be in critical condition.

According to initial reports, the suspected suicide bomber tried to join the procession by crossing barbed wires and breaking the security cordon. The bomber detonated his suicide jacket containing high-intensity explosives the moment he was intercepted by security personnel.

The blast, which shattered windowpanes of nearby houses, was heard miles away. It created panic across the city as police and emergency services were seen moving towards the site of the blast.

According to law-enforcement personnel, four live grenades were found at the scene of the bombing. Human limbs were scattered over a large area and the injured were screaming for help.

Angry people pelted policemen with stones and raised slogans against the administration and its failure to provide security.

According to one of the injured, who identified himself as Bagh Hussain Shah, the procession was heading towards the main road when the explosion took place.

“There was chaos, the injured lying over a vast area as everybody screaming with pain and calling for help,” he said. “There was nobody to help me as my brother Ishtiaq Hussain Shah who suffered serious injuries was also lying on the road.”

At least 23 injured were taken to the district headquarters hospital, five to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, three to the Military Hospital and one to the Holy Family Hospital.

S. Raza Hassan in Karachi adds: The provincial capital was rocked by twin blasts near an Imambargah. Two people were killed and at least 12 others injured.

The two blasts took place with a space of one hour close to Masjid-o-Imambargah Haider-i-Karar in Orangi Town No 5.

According to police and hospital sources, Arsalan, a shopkeeper, and Arshad, a puncture shop owner, were killed. Journalists as well as police and Rangers personnel were among the injured.

The first blast took place at about 7pm, damaging nearby shops.

“Circumstantial evidence suggests that explosives were planted in a motorcycle,” said Raja Umar Khattab, SSP of CID’s counter-terrorism wing.

“The second improvised explosive device appeared to have been concealed in a brick-like structure along the wall of the Imambargah. A number of similar blocks on the pavement gave a perfect cover to the IED,” the SSP said, adding that about five to six kilograms of explosives were used in the first blast and about half a kilogram in the second, he said.

“The blast took place during traffic movement on the road. The motorcycle was not parked there and it is difficult to say at the moment if the blast was carried out by a suicide bomber,” DIG West Javed Odho told Dawn.

He said some mutilated human remains had been found, but only a DNA test could confirm if those were of the bomber.

Forensic investigators claimed to have collected “some crucial pieces of evidence” which could lead to trace the planners and executors of the attacks, a senior officer said.

The Secretary General of Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Allama Nasir Abbas Jafri, condemned the twin blasts and said the government had completely failed to provide security to people.

In a statement, he called for handing over security to the army on 9th and 10th of Muharram.