19 killed in suicide attack near Lal Masjid (Third Lead)July 6th, 2008 - 11:18 pm ICT by IANS
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 6 (IANS) Nineteen people, including nine policemen, were killed and more than 30 injured in a suicide bombing near a police station 300 yards from the Lal Masjid Sunday in a renewed terrorist attack in the Pakistani capital, police and hospital sources said. “Eight people were killed on the spot while seven died in different hospitals of the city,” a senior police officer told IANS. He said that more than 30 people were injured This was also confirmed by the hospital sources in the federal capital where emergency has been declared.
According to one eyewitness, a young man under 20 years walked into a gathering of policemen at a tea stall near the Aabpara Police Station where they were having tea and snacks. “Suddenly that man was blown up, killing and injuring people standing nearby,” said Majid, who was present close to the scene of incident.
On Sunday, a large number of religious leaders had gathered near the Lal Masjid that was raided last year by the law enforcing authorities in an effiort to flush out fundamentalists, killing more than 200 people.
In Sunday’s gathering that was organized by Wafaqul Madaris (federation of religious schools), there were religious leaders from some of the banned organizations, discussing restarting religious school adjacent to the Lal Masjid.
“We strongly condemn this incident and let me say that it is rather impossible to stop a suicide attacker,” advisor to the prime minister Rehman Malik told IANS. He said an immediate inquiry has been ordered into the incident and police were put on high alert in the capital, which is already considered a red zone.
Policemen on duty were seen in tears as they lost their colleagues. “I went to police station after ordering tea at the stall and as I was turning back I heard a huge blast and many of my colleagues were killed and many were screaming in pain,” said one policeman.
A bomb disposal squad reached the site of the blast. “It was a suicide attack but it is difficult to say about his age as we are still looking for clues,” one of the squad members told IANS.
According to information, reserve police personnel were targeted in the blast and the dead include policemen from Islamabad and Punjab. The toll is expected to mount considering the intensity of the blast.
Station House Officer of Sehala, Inspector Sarwar, has also been killed in the blast besides eight other police officials.
However, political parties said that it was a complete security failure and the government needs to tighten the security.
“This shows that the government has completely failed in protecting people. When policemen are being killed, we can imagine how the people of country would be feeling,” former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao told IANS.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz spokesman Sidiqul Farooq said it was a failure on part of the security agencies.
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