PESHAWAR: Six children were killed and one injured Sunday while playing with a hand grenade in Hangu, officials said.
The children, aged seven to 12, were playing near their house in the town of Hangu when the grenade exploded, local police chief Iftikhar Ahmed told AFP. “Five boys and one girl were killed in the blast. One other child was injured,” he said. Syed Ahmed Jan, a senior local administration official, added: “The children were playing with a hand grenade they found on nearby open ground.” Another police official said the children were all members of the same family who had migrated from the neighbouring Orakzai Agency where the military is battling the Taliban. According to police, the children were playing with a “toy-shaped thing” inside their house and it exploded.
Hangu itself is regularly targeted by militants. A schoolboy from a nearby village sacrificed his life to stop a suicide bomber, saving the lives of his classmates earlier this month. The blast occurred near a house situated in Babar Mela area in the jurisdiction of the Hangu Police Station. According to an official of the Hangu Police Control, the grenade was hidden in a garbage dump. It immediately killed five children who were playing nearby, while the sixth child, six-year old Zakia, succumbed to her injuries on way to hospital.
The other children were identified as 10-year-old Asif, 8-year-old Ashiq, 7-year-old Ishaq, 7-year-old Hazrat and 4-year-old Mohib s. The relief workers shifted the bodies to the hospital. The security officials cordoned off the area and started a search operation. Hangu District Police Officer (DPO) Iftikhar Ahmed said that unidentified miscreants had left the grenade there. The explosion also destroyed a portion of a nearby house.
It must be remembered that a schoolboy, Aitzaz Hassan, was killed while stopping a suicide bomber from approaching his school in Hangu earlier this month. The father of the teenager hailed him for saving “hundreds” of lives through his bravery. Aitzaz Hassan, aged around 15, died in hospital after stopping the bomber, who blew himself up, at the gates of his school in Hangu District on Monday. His father Mujahid Ali Bangash, 55, told AFP he felt not sadness but pride at his son’s death. “Aitzaz has made us proud by valiantly intercepting the bomber and saving the lives of hundreds of his fellow students,” he said.
“Many people are coming to see me but if they try to express sympathy, I tell them to congratulate me instead on becoming the father of a martyr,” he said. “I will be even more than happy if my second son also sacrifices his life for the country.” Police official Shakirullah Bangash told AFP that Aitzaz intercepted the bomber some 150 metres away from the main gate of the school, which has around 1,000 students. The schoolchildren were the target of the attack, he added. News of Hassan’s bravery also led to an outpouring of tributes on social media. Sherry Rehman, former ambassador to the United States, tweeted: “Hangu’s shaheed (martyr) Aitzaz Hasan is Pakistan’s pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage #AitzazBraveheart.”
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