Saturday, May 18, 2013

5/17/13: 13 Killed in Pakistan Mosque Blasts

Men inspect the mosque damaged by a bomb blast in Baz Darra area of Malakand. PHOTO: RAB NAWAZ/EXPRESS
Black Friday: Blasts tear through Malakand mosques

PESHAWAR / BATKHELA: Two bombs ripped through two separate mosques in the Baz Darra area of Malakand Protected Area on Friday, killing 13 worshippers and wounding over three dozen people.

“Around 1:20pm when people gathered for Friday prayers in the main mosque, Bar Jummat, in Baz Darra village a bomb went off, killing nine worshippers on the spot and injuring over 35,” Deputy Commissioner Amjid Ali Khan told journalists. Another four worshippers, with critical wounds, succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

Residents rushed to pull out victims from the mosque which collapsed due to the impact of the blast, Khan said. Minutes later, a second bomb tore through a nearby mosque, he added. A 70-year-old man, identified as Khalilur Rahman, was trapped under the rubble of the second mosque and died.

Explaining why the second blast was less deadly, Khan said that most of the worshippers had rushed to help the victims of the first blast. “It’s an act of terrorism,” Khan said, adding that they didn’t have intelligence of a possible attack in the region.

Levies forces official Gul Roz Khan said it was a time device which was planted under a praying mat inside the main hall of the mosque. He added that the mosque was reduced to a heap of rubble. Details of the second blast were murky till the filing of this report.

According to Gul Roz, four critically injured people died while being shifted to Dargai Civil Hospital while a state of emergency was declared in Palai Civil Hospital and nearby medical units.

“We have imposed a curfew in the area and mounted a manhunt for the perpetrators,” Gul Roz added.

Dr Naseer of the Palai Civil Hospital said that they have received around 30 injured – five of them, with life-threatening wounds have been referred to hospitals in Peshawar.

Nine injured were shifted to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital – two of them are said to be in a critical condition.

“I was offering prayers when a loud explosion went off,” Zareen Muhammad, a farmer who was injured in the blast, told The Express Tribune from his hospital bed. “I lost consciousness and when I regained senses I found myself on the hospital bed.”

Another survivor, Inamullah Khan, said that the blast took place during Friday’s sermon of the prayer leader. “Thick smoke and dust filled the main prayers hall. When the smoke cleared I found myself lying amidst many other inured,” he added.

Earlier in the morning, the house of a retired security official was targeted with a bomb by suspected militants in Baz Darra village. The boundary wall and main gate of the house were destroyed in the explosion.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan condemned the bombings in strong terms and ordered the authorities to be ‘vigilant’ to avert such incidents in future, said a statement issued by his office.

The provincial information minister, Mussarat Qadeem, also denounced the blasts and expressed grief over the loss of precious lives. In a statement, she said that restoration of peace topped the priority list of the interim administration. She sought people’s cooperation in combating the menace of militancy in the region.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2013.
By Tribune Correspondent / Rab Nawaz / Photo: Rab Nawaz
Published: May 18, 2013

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