PESHAWAR: Six people, including two women, were injured when a powerful bomb blast ripped through a street in the Peshawar cantonment on Saturday morning, police said.
The blast occurred at around 8.45am on Qazi Street, a narrow lane connecting Kali Bari Road with the Sunehri Masjid within the jurisdiction of the West Cantonment police station. The improvised explosive device (IED) was planted in a car parked next to a mosque, which is said to be linked to Jamaatud Dawa organisation.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti, a resident who lives in a street next to the spot where the blast occurred, told Dawn he was leaving for work when the powerful tremor shook the area. “When I rushed out, the entire area was engulfed in thick smoke,” he said, adding that within minutes rescuers had arrived on site. He said that the explosion severely damaged his residence and nearby houses. However, Mr Bhatti added that since the school in the area and most offices were closed at the time of the attack, there were fewer casualties.
IED-rigged car was parked next to a mosque
The blast also damaged the mosque’s wall, windowpanes and shutters of houses and shops nearby.
City police chief Qazi Jamilur Rehman told reporters that the white Corolla car used in the attack was packed with eight to 10 kilograms of explosives. He said that the vehicle was parked next to an empty plot and it would be premature to say something regarding its target at this stage.
“The entire vehicle had blown up and only (its) engine part remained intact,” said bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik.
Mr Rehman said that the area usually did not see much traffic at the start of the day, which resulted in fewer casualties. He said that the police would look at the CCTV footage to see where the vehicle had come from.
A CCTV image showed a white car parked in the street by a suspect who left the street after covering his head with a shawl. Soon after the suspect left the street, the car blew up.
A police official told Dawn that the owner of the vehicle had been identified as Naik Mohammad, a resident of Jamrud. The official said that they were also sharing images of the suspect who drove the car to the attack spot with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for identification. Regarding the target of the attack, the official said it was not immediately clear as to what the target was, but it appeared that the purpose was to create panic as no high-value targets were around at the time.
A spokesperson for the Lady Reading Hospital told Dawn that six injured had been brought to the hospital and three of them had been discharged after treatment.
The injured were identified as Mohammad Farooq, Mukhtyar Bibi, Ibrahim, Umair, Rubi Frances and Rehmat Gul.
Sources told Dawn that security forces had conducted an operation in the Wazir Dhand area of Jamrud tehsil a couple of hours after the blast and taken a suspect into custody. They said that a search operation was continuing in the area till the filing of this report.
The law and order situation in the provincial capital has considerably improved during the past two years and according to the city police, there were six terrorist attacks in the city last year.