Enemies of Pakistan and Islam, known as Taliban, have once again struck the innocent people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This time their target was a thanksgiving rally of Awami National Party (ANP) in Timargara, lower Dir.
At least 43 people have been killed and 100 have been injured in this most recent massacre by Taliban terrorists.
The bomb blast occurred in a public meeting organised by ANP to celebrate renaming NWFP as Pakhtoonkhwa. A large number of people had gathered for the celebration organised by the ANP, which leads the ruling coalition in the province.
“It was a suicide attack,” ANP spokesman Senator Zahid Khan told media while condemning the attack on the meeting that was held at a rest house near the crowded bazaar in Timergarah of the Lower Dir district in the northwest province.
Some 800 local party workers and leaders were attending the meeting before taking out the rally to celebrate the renaming of the northwest province as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The blast occurred at a rest house in the market of Timergara, the headquarters of Lower Dir district, where the ANP had organised the rally.
Deputy inspector general of police (Malakand division) Qazi Jamilur Rahman and senior ANP leader Zahid Khan confirmed it was a suicide attack. Several witnesses said they had seen police firing at the suicide bomber before he detonated his explosives.
Sultan Zeb, local head of ANP, was among the dead and party leader Zahid Khan’s brother was injured in the attack. TV news channels beamed footage of bloodstained bodies lying on the lawn outside the rest house as people carried the injured away from the site. Security forces cordoned off the area and an emergency was declared in nearby hospitals. Hospital officials issued an appeal for people to donate blood.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Amir Hyder Hoti has strongly condemned the blast and expressed grief over loss of precious human lives.
“The government will continue to fight against the militants in the province,” said Haji Adeel, an ANP leader.
The Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that the ANP was targeted as it is in the front line of the war on terror. He said the ANP will continue to fight against the militants unless they are eliminated.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. But the ANP leaders blamed Taliban militants for the attack. Taliban militants had targeted ANP leaders, who are supporting the army’s operation against the militants.
The ANP is leading a coalition in the NWFP along with the Pakistan People’s Party of President Asif Ali Zardari.
The Maidan area near Timergara was a key stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban till the army launched a major offensive last year to evict militants from Buner, Dir and Swat regions of the NWFP. The Timergara area was also a key base for Sufi Muhammad, the chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi.
DIG Rahman said security forces had effectively controlled the activities of militants in the region and they could no longer carry out attack in groups. “However, some elements are still present in the area and they are trying to spread terror,” he said.
It was one of the bloodiest day in the province, where government forces are pressing an offensive to force Taliban fighters out of their strongholds in Aurakzai and South Waziristan.
Later in the afternoon, Taliban militants, dressed in battle fatigues, made a brazen attempt to storm the US consulate in Peshawar with car bombs and grenades.
Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack with its spokesman Azam Tariq (an alias adopted after slain terrorist leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba) saying “3,000 fidayeen were ready to target the Americans and their agents”.