PESHAWAR: A suicide attack targeting internally displaced persons from the Khyber tribal region on Sunday killed at least five people and injured 14 others, officials said.
The bomber was believed to have been targeting a group of refugees from the tribal belt who had gone to a government-run camp in the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar to fill out paperwork ahead of their journey home.
The suicide bomber first opened fire at the police guarding the registration point for the IDPs from Tirah Valley before blowing himself up, eyewitnesses said.
“It was a suicide attack,” police official Najeebur Rehman told media personnel at the Shahi Bagh where the government had set up registration point for the IDPs.
“It was a suicide blast, around 10 kilograms of explosives were used,” he told AFP.
He said the suicide bomber was trying to target the refugees. “But he could not reach them because the security forces started firing at him and he blew himself up,” Rehman said.
Senior police official Faisal Mukhtar said the bomber blew himself up near a small mosque inside the stadium and the dead included one tribal policeman. The blast caused one of mosque’s walls to fall down.
“A suicide bomber entered the stadium and fired gunshots,” an eyewitness said. “The security personnel returned the fire upon which the bomber detonated his explosives near a mosque inside the stadium premises.”
Shahid Afridi, a firefighter present at the site during the blast, said a man in his twenties entered the stadium and started firing with a pistol.
“The security forces retaliated and then there was an explosion and I fell to the ground,” said Afridi, who sustained leg injuries following the blast.
Muzafaruddin Sadiq, head of the Lady Reading Hospital, said, “We have five dead bodies and six injured,” adding one person remained in critical condition.
The injured included children as well, according to the rescue service.
Explosives expert Zahid Khan said eight to 10 kilograms of explosive appeared to have been used in the suicide attack, with pellets and iron pieces.
Thousands of people from Tirah valley in Khyber tribal district fled their homes after the military began an operation against Qaeda-affiliated groups in 2011. Many have sought shelter in government-run camps while others stayed with extended family or in rented accommodation.
With the fighting in that district calming down, the government has started a repatriation process that requires them to register themselves so they are cleared to go home. The attack comes two weeks after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) formally ended a ceasefire called to help peace talks with the government.
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