Forty people were killed and more than 75 others critically injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral prayers of the slain Deputy Superintendent of Police, Lakki Marwat, Javed Iqbal Khan, in Mingora city on Friday evening. The dead included SHO Mingora police station Habib Jamal, Naib Nazim Malookabad union council Habibullah Khan and a son of the deceased police officer Javed Iqbal.
Independent sources, however, put the death toll at 50, fearing that the number could rise as majority of the injured removed to the Saidu Sharif hospital were in critical condition. Besides several other people, the younger son of the late police officer, Ghazan Khan, and a local reporter Sirajuddin were also killed in the attack.
Residents of the Mingora city, who attended the funeral prayers of the slain police officer at the Government High School, Haji Baba building, told The News on telephone that the blast occurred when the funeral had just finished and the people had started to disperse.
“A huge and deafening explosion rocked the school building when a police party had begun presenting guard of honour to the deceased,” said Haji Dost Mohammad, a resident of Makan Bagh.
DSP Javed Iqbal, who died in a bomb blast in the troubled southern Lakki Marwat district on Friday morning, belonged to Makan Bagh area of Mingora city. His body was later taken to his hometown in the evening for burial.
Known as a calm and reserved police officer, Javed Iqbal had no enmity. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mingora city, Karamat Shah, told The News that 40 bodies had been recovered from the site of the blast and efforts were under way to collect the body pieces of other victims.
He was dead sure that it was a suicide attack, in which more than 60 mourners sustained serious injuries. The police officer confirmed that SHO Mingora Police Station Habib Jamal, Naib Nazim Malookabad Union Council Habibullah Khan and Ghazan Khan, the son of DSP Javed Iqbal, were among the dead.
“Majority of the bodies were disfigured beyond recognition,” the police officer said. Witnesses said the explosion also caused damage to the body of Javed Iqbal. Local people shifted all the injured to the adjacent Saidu Sharif hospital in their own cars.
Emergency was declared in the hospital and all the doctors and paramedics were immediately called from their private clinics and homes. However, some people were not satisfied with the health services for the blast victims at the hospital.
Local people said the power supply to the town was disconnected after the blast, which multiplied the hardships of the rescuers as well as those trapped in the school building. Also, the security forces based in the town reportedly started heavy aerial firing after the explosion, which further terrified the already-panicked mourners.
Police officials and family members of late Javed Iqbal could not understand as to who they should blame for such an extreme inhuman and un-Islamic act. “There was definitely a very well-trained and well-organised terrorist group behind the dastardly acts which even did not spare his body and came after him to his native town,” a senior police officer in the militancy-hit Swat district said while seeking anonymity.
He said before his appointment as DSP Lakki Marwat, Javed Iqbal served in Shangla and Matta subdivisions in Swat. Meanwhile, the NWFP government has condemned the blast in the funeral prayers of Javed Iqbal and announced Rs 100,000 each for the blast victims and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.
Meanwhile, an indefinite curfew was clamped across the restive Swat district in the backdrop of the suicide hit on Friday evening. APP adds: President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro, caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz Khan and former Interior Minister and PPP-S chief Aftab Ahmad Khan have strongly condemned the suicide attack at the funeral prayers of slain DSP Javed Iqbal in Mingora, Swat, on Friday evening.
The president and the prime minister in their separate messages said such cowardly acts of terrorists would not dent the government’s resolve to fight terrorism and extremism. The president highlighted the pivotal role of the law enforcing agencies in the maintenance of law and order in the country and said the police and other law enforcing agencies had the frontline role in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
He expressed his grief over the loss of lives and injuries and offered condolences to the bereaved families.The prime minister in his message also termed the attack as a timid act of terrorism and said the government would continue to fight terrorism and extremism till complete elimination of this menace.
He directed the concerned authorities to take special care of the injured and provide them with the best medical treatment. Hamid Nawaz and Aftab Sherpao, in their separate calls to The News, also condemned the suicide attack in the strongest terms and expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.