45 dead and 108 injured in suicide bombings in Swat and DI Khan: Religious extremists carry out revenge attacks
* Two car bombs strike military convoy in Swat
* Suicide bomber blows himself up during police recruitment exams in Dera Ismail Khan
By Zakir Hassnain and Manzoor Ali Shah
PESHAWAR: Up to 45 people were killed and over a hundred injured in suicide bombings targeting security forces in NWFP on Sunday in apparent revenge attacks by extremists for the Lal Masjid operation.
Eleven security personnel and six civilians were killed and 47 others injured in Matta, Swat, when suicide bombers smashed two cars packed with explosives into an army convoy, officials said. And 25 people were killed and 61 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Dera Ismail Khan Police Lines on Sunday, police said.
On Saturday, a similar attack on an army convoy in North Waziristan killed 23 paramilitary soldiers. The latest attacks mean some 100 people, mostly from the security forces, have been killed in attacks since July 3, when troops laid siege to Lal Masjid in Islamabad. Some 75 militants were killed when commandos stormed the mosque compound. Extremist clerics, including Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, denounced the operation and called for revenge attacks on security forces. Many of the militants at the mosque and madrassa students were believed to have been from the NWFP.
Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao said the two attacks could be a militant response to the Lal Masjid assault. Sunday’s first attack occurred between 7:00am and 7:40am, when two cars packed with explosives rammed into a convoy of several vehicles passing through Matta bazaar in Mingora, Swat. In addition, a landmine also hit the convoy, Swat District Coordination Officer (DCO) Syed Muhammad Javed told Daily Times.
“Among the dead, 11 are army jawans, six civilians, including a child, and two suicide bombers,” said the DCO, adding that among the injured, 41 were from the army, two from the Frontier Corps (FC), two from the police, and two were civilians. The blast destroyed some nearby houses and damaged a market.
The dead were identified as Hawaldar Nasir, Hawaldar Ijaz, Lance Naik Azam, Lance Naik Adil Mehmud, Lance Naik Ghulam Muhammad, and Jawans Abdul Latif, Akmal, Muzaffar Ali, Salman, Masood Jan and Said Manan, said the DCO.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack. “Some people have been taken into custody and the police are investigating,” Javed said. He said the injured were shifted to hospitals in Peshawar, Mardan and Rawalpindi in helicopters. Asked if the government would now conduct an operation against militants in Swat, Major General Waheed Arshad, director general of ISPR, said: “We’ll see what we can do. There is no such move at the moment.”
Eyewitnesses said the security forces opened fire after the attack to keep locals away from the blast scene, but there was no crossfire between the assailants and the security forces. However, Gen Arshad said there was no firing at the blast site.
At about 4:15pm, a suicide bomber blew himself up at DI Khan Police Lines as candidates took police entrance exams. Police official Safiullah told Daily Times that a total of 26 people were killed, including 12 policemen and the suicide bomber, and 61 others were wounded.
Dera Ismail Khan District Nazim Haji Abdul Rauf said it was not clear how the bomber entered the police lines, whose entrance was guarded by policemen. Police officer Mohammed Aslam told AP that more than 150 people were on the premises when the bomber struck. He said the suicide bomber’s head and suicide vest had been found.