By Irfan Haider
ISLAMABAD, (Dawn): At least 18 people were killed and dozens injured, some critically, on Wednesday when an explosion occurred behind the Metro Shopping center in the Sabzi Mandi area of the capital city, DawnNews reported.
Police and rescue teams rushed to the site of the incident after the explosion occurred.
Initial reports suggest that the explosive material was planted inside a box containing fruits.
Police said that a remote controlled bomb containing five kilograms of explosive material was used in the blast.
Police added that boxes containing fruits were brought to the market from the Punjab province.
The blast occurred at a time when labourers and early morning shoppers were busy purchasing fruits.
Police initiated a search operation and cordoned off the area.
Moreover, police arrested a ‘suspicious’ person from the location of the blast. Sabzi Mandi is situated in the sector I-11 of the capital city and a kachi abadi of Afghan nationals is also located in the same sector.
Earlier,Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Vice Chancellor Prof. Javed Akram said that 31 injured in the blast were given medical treatment in the hospital and the death toll was likely to increase.
Later, spokesperson Pims Dr. Ayesha said the earlier provided death toll was incorrect adding that 18 dead bodies and 50 wounded were brought to the hospital.
Following the attack, Pims hospital made an information desk which would provide information related to dead bodies and the wounded persons.
The attack occurred just prior to the Corps Commanders’ Conference which will be held today.
TTP condemns attack
TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid condemned the blast in the capital city, adding that the death of civilians in the attack was regrettable.
The spokesman also denounced yesterday’s bomb explosion inside a train in Sibi which had claimed 17 lives.
Moreover, Shahid said it was possible that some “hidden hands” were involved in the attacks.
Intelligence warned of attacks
The attack came a day before the April 10 ceasefire by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ends.
Intelligence sources had first alerted the police and government officials on April 3, 2014 that possible terrorist attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta were being planned by militants who oppose the peace talks between government and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“Law enforcing agencies will be the main target of the terrorists, and in the case of their failure, any other official installation or public place,” one official said.
“TTP will choose the targets and the informal groups under its umbrella will provide support to the Ansarul Hind activists with weapons and other materials,” he added.
Security sources say the scenario looks similar to the terrorist attacks that quickly followed the announcement of a month-long ceasefire by the TTP last month. The most audacious of them was the bomb-and-gun attack on the district courts complex in Islamabad on March 3, which was claimed by Ahrarul Hind group.
Locals and law enforcement gathered at the Sabzi Mandi blast site – Photo by Irfan Haider