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Monday, May 20, 2024  
11 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Policeman killed in suicide car bombing in Islamabad

Banned outfit claims responsibility; 10 injured people brought to PIMS hospital; heavy contingent of police reaches I-10/4 area of federal capital
Policemen gather at the suicide blast site in Islamabad on December 23, 2022. AFP
Policemen gather at the suicide blast site in Islamabad on December 23, 2022. AFP
Rescue workers and police officers gather at the site of a suicide car bombing in Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Reuters
Rescue workers and police officers gather at the site of a suicide car bombing in Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Reuters
Rescue workers and police officers gather at the site of a suicide car bombing in Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Reuters
Rescue workers and police officers gather at the site of a suicide car bombing in Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Reuters
Security personnel at the crime scene in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Photo via Twitter/PTV News
Security personnel at the crime scene in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Photo via Twitter/PTV News
An explosion was reported in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Screengrab
An explosion was reported in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Screengrab
An explosion was reported in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Screengrab
An explosion was reported in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on December 23, 2022. Screengrab

A policeman was killed and 10 others wounded in a suicide car bombing in the I-10/4 area of Islamabad on Friday, the police said, as the country deals with fresh wave of terrorist attacks in the country.

“The police spotted a suspicious vehicle with a man and a woman aboard at 10:15am in the area,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Sohail Zafar Chattha told reporters at the crime scene.

Deceased policeman was identified as Adeel Hussain. A heavy contingent of police has reached the site and cordoned off the area. A bomb disposal squad and investigation officers have reached to the site.

“When the police stopped the vehicle, the couple came out of the car. The long haired man, while being checked by the officers of Eagle Squad of police, went inside the vehicle on some pretext and then detonated himself,” Chattha said.

He added that a police officer was martyred in the blast while four others were injured. “They have been moved to a nearby hospital and they are being treated.”

The DIG praised the police for “saving Islamabad from a major foul play”.

All the casulaties have been shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. At least 10 injured people, including five policemen, were brought to PIMS, said hospital executive director Khalid Masood.

Intial reports said that 18 kilogramme of explosive materials was used in the attack. Video of the incident was making round on social media.

Diversions placed for both sides of traffic at the Service Road East of I-10/4 due to bomb blast incident, the police said. “Citizens are advised to use Service Road West of I-10/4 as alternate.”

“Security was high alert in Islamabad and checking was going on,” the Islamabad police said in a statement. “The policemen ordered a suspected car to stop during checking. The suspected bomber blew up the car when the it stopped.”

The car approached from the IJP Road, which divides Islamabad and Rawalpindi, source said. The track is currently under construction, allowing very limited traffic.

They added that the police had been tipped that a government building or high level personality could be targeted, subsequently a barrier was set up on intel reports. The vehicle was a taxi and contained two people. It was registered in Lahore.

The development comes couple of days after the seige of the coutner terrorism department in Bannu, Khyber Pakhwunkha. A special SSG team led the operation that neutralized militants holed up at the CTD on Tuesday, with the clearance operation completed Wednesday. Normalcy returned to the town of the district on Thursday.

Emergency has been declared in hospitals and security was on high alert in the federal capital.

“Terrorists have been targeting the police for some time to demoralise law enforcement agencies. The terrorists wanted to detonate in a densely populated area to attack the police and the public,” the police said in a series of tweets.

One of the residents of the area told Aaj News that his family members were busy with household chores when they heard the blast. He thought that a PMT might have exploded, however, later it turned out to be something else.

To a query, he said the security personnel reached the site 20 minutes after the sound of the explosion.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the blast, AFP reported. The banned group alleged the attack “on the enemies of Islam” was in retaliation for the recent killing of a senior member.

The group, which is separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar hardline Islamist ideology, called off a stop-start ceasefire with the government in November.

Haji Mohammad Saeed, 60, a retired government official living in the neighbourhood where the attack happened, said authorities should end all negotiations with the banned outfit.

“They are taking advantage of this dialogue and causing violence.”

Pakistan was for a time plagued with almost daily bomb blasts across the country, but security vastly improved after a military crackdown that began in 2016.

Violence against security officials has risen in the northwestern border areas with Afghanistan over the past year – blamed on militant groups linked to the Pakistan Taliban.

Earlier this week, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif called for a fresh security operation against the TTP after suspected militants being held at a police station overpowered their captors and held them hostage for three days.

“Terrorism is on the rise again,” he said.

“There’s a spillover effect from the situation in Afghanistan and that’s affecting Pakistan, we have to launch this operation.”

Red alert issued

The Islamabad inspector-general has issued orders for a “security red alert” across the city.

“Strict action will be taken against vehicles with non-specimen number plates. No one will be allowed to carry arms,” he said in a series of tweets.

It also advised residents to carry documents of identification while travelling.

Investigation

Initial investigation has revealed that the vehicle used in the attack is 1989 model taxi, with number LEI 7793 and is registered to Sajid, a resident of Chakwal.

It has also been confirmed that the attack was a suicide bombing and 18019 kilograms of explosive material were used. Apart from the attacker, another person was in the vehicle. However, it is unclear if it was a woman or the vehicle’s driver. Sources say that the son of the vehicle’s owner has been tracked down.

Condemnation

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident and sought a report from the police.

“A big plot to kill innocent lives has been foiled because of the timely action taken by the law enforcement agencies,” he said in a statement run by PTV News.

He paid tribute to the martyred police constable Adeel Hussain. “The entire nation salutes their valiant police personnel, who sacrificed lives and stopped the terrorists.”

PM Shehbaz added that the nation would continue its fight against terrorism until the complete elimination of terrorism.

The premier also expressed sympathies with the injured and directed to provide best treatment facilities to them. He also directed the IG Police to confer awards on the police personnel for their extraordinary bravery.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed that the car was sent to “target a high value destination”. He repeated the same information as the DIG mentioned.

“Due to the conscientiousness of the police, Islamabad was spared from a major accident,” he said.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the incident and paid tributes to the martyred policeman.

“The Islamabad policemen have done their duty without caring for their lives,” he said and offered prayers for the speedy recovery of injured policemen.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari was grieved over the martyrdom of the policeman.

“The brave men of the police have crushed the nefarious intentions of the terrorists,” he said.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb condemned the terrorist activity and described the deceased police officer as the “hero” of the nation.

“Pakistan’s salvation and prosperity lies only in freedom from unrest,” she said and prayed for the deceased and injured people.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

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