Sixth terror strike in twin cities within three months : Fear grips garrison city after mosque attack
* Business activity comes to a standstill in area
* Law enforcement agencies ‘intensify’ patrolling
* Helicopters hover over area to monitor movement of suspected people
* Peshawar Road blocked from Plaza Cinema to Chur Chowk
* Residents stay indoors, demand concrete security plan
By Aamir Yasin
RAWALPINDI: Fear and panic gripped the garrison city on Friday shortly after the suicide attack on a mosque at Parade Lane, Peshawar Road, in which 40 people, including a major general of army, were killed and 83 injured.
It was the sixth terrorist attack in three months in twin cities. On December 2, a suicide bomber attacked the Naval Complex in Islamabad, killing two soldiers and injuring 11 others. On October 20, the terrorist strike at International Islamic University Islamabad, left five dead and 31 injured. On October 10, the terrorists tried to enter army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) and on October 5, a suicide bomber blew himself up at World Food Programme offices, killing at least five people including a foreigner and injuring eight others.
Shops closed: The news about terrorist attack spread like a jungle fire and shopkeepers closed down their shops at Qasim Market and adjoining areas including Afshan Colony, Dhoke Chaudhrian, Westridge Bazaar and Transit Camp Chowk, Saddar, The Mall, Haider Road, bringing the commercial activities to a halt.
Action: The security forces came into action and increased patrolling in every part of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Rangers sealed Qasim Market area. Extra police force and law-enforcement agencies were deployed in surrounding areas and on the rooftops of nearby buildings.
Helicopters kept hovering over the Parade Lane, Peshawar Road to scan the area and watch movement of suspected people.
Road blocked: The traffic police immediately blocked the Peshawar Road with barricades from Plaza Cinema to Chur Chowk and continued to frisk people. They did not allow motorcyclists in the area.
Residents: The residents of the garrison city said how they could live in such tense and fearful situation when terrorists were wandering among them.
“I was at my shop when I heard the sound of blast. It knocked me down. I could not restore my senses for few moments before I got up and ran for shelter,” Riaz Khan, a shopkeeper at Qasim Market -close to the blast site, told Daily Times.
Mohammad Zaman, a resident of Raja Akram Road, said the terrorist activity terrified him and scared his family. “For some time, I was unable to move,” he said.
Intizar Ahmed, a resident of Peshawar Road, said the suicide attackers could hit any place if they enter the area. Why the government does not make a solid plan to get rid of terrorists as thousands of innocent people have been killed in suicide attacks in the country including Rawalpindi and Islamabad, he asked. Ali Hasan, a resident of Valley Road, said he was frightened after the terrorist attack. “We have been confined to our home since afternoon due to fear,” he said.
Raja Rasalat, a resident of Raja Akram Road, said when the police knew that some suicide attackers had entered Rawalpindi and Islamabad then why they were not arresting them. How people would move for their day-to-day work? he asked.
Another resident, Khalid Ahmed, said the mosques, bazaars and residential areas were also not safe for the people. He said the government should take practical steps to ensure protection to life and property of citizens instead of making tall claims.