PESHAWAR - At least 10 people were killed and 42 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a hotel frequented by Shias in Qissa Khwani Bazaar here Tuesday. Unknown assailants shot dead a Shia leader in the same bazaar the same day.
The bomber detonated himself at the main gate of Pak Hotel in Kocha Risaldar, a Shia dominated neighbourhood. Police said that the hotel was mostly used by Shia devotees from Parachinar and Kurram Agency who would come there to visit nearby Imambargah Alamdar.
The dead included women and children, and most of them were Shias, police officials said. The huge blast, which came when most of the people were having dinner, killed 10 people, besides injuring 35 men, five children and two women.
Police cordoned off the area after the blast and rescue workers moved the injured to Lady Reading Hospital where emergency was declared. There was complete darkness and from a distance almost nothing was visible except ambulance lights.
Confirming the death toll, Superintendent Police (SP) City Muhammad Faisal Mukhtar said it was a suicide attack. The hotel, the imambargah next door and some nearby houses were damaged in the explosion, he added. Talking to the media, KPK Health Minister Shaukat Yousufzai said seven of the wounded were critical. Police found body parts of suspected suicide bomber.
Those killed included Safar Ali, Syed Hasan, Mohasim Ali and Edwards College Peshawar student Hasan Ali who all belonged to Parachinar. Among the dead were also Mumtaz Hussian Bakhshti, Noor Qamar and Asghar Ali who had come from Kurram Agency.
Bomb Disposal Squad AIG Shafqat Malik said that about six kg explosives have been used in the blast. He said hands and legs of the suicide bomber have been recovered from the site. It has been learnt that the hotel was under threat and police have apprised its owner to make proper security arrangements.
A senior policeman said the attack was possibly the work of more than one suicide bomber and it took place as worshippers left the mosque and walked towards the hotel. The explosion, which echoed around the city centre, happened at a time when the government is trying to engage Pakistani Taliban militants in peace negotiations.
But the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) distanced itself from the blast. “We have no role in the blast and it was not carried out by the Pakistani Taliban,” Shahid Ullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban told a foreign news agency.
In another incident earlier the same day, unidentified attackers killed a Shia leader in Qissa Khwani Bazaar. Haji Sardar Ali, who owned a general store in the bazaar, was going to his shop when the assailants opened fire on him. He was taken to nearby Lady Reading Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Haji Sardar Ali headed the local branch of the Tehrik Nifaz Fiqah-i-Jafaria. At the hospital, around a hundred Shias gathered and chanted slogans demanding arrest of the attackers. No organisation claimed responsibility for the attack. The killing comes just weeks after a Shia scholar Allama Alim al-Musvi was shot while going to a mosque in the same bazaar.