Law enforcement agencies in Pakistan on Wednesday detained several people in connection with the bomb blast at a religious seminary in northwest Pakistan's Peshawar city that killed eight students and they suspect the target of the attack was a senior cleric from Afghanistan. The blast occurred around 8:30 am on Tuesday at a local mosque, which also serves as a religious school in Dir Colony in interior Peshawar, while students were reading the Quran. There was no claim of responsibility for the blast in the city, bordering war-torn Afghanistan.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Sanaullah Abbasi told reporters that about five kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack; however, there was no specific alert about this attack. Police, Elite Force, Rapid Response Force and Bomb Disposal Squad have conducted search operation Dir Colony and adjoining areas and detained several suspects in the door-to-door search.
Students aged 20-30 were killed in the blast. Most of those injured in the attack belonged to Afghanistan. Police said that the attack targeted a class with Sheikh Rahimuddin Haqqani, a senior cleric and instructor. They suspect that Haqqani could be the target of the attack.
Haqqani, an Afghan national from Jalalabad, remained safe in the attack. Haqqani had survived a previous attempt to assassinate him four years ago. A special interrogation team of officials has also been constituted to question the arrested suspects, Duniya News reported.
Statements of eyewitnesses who had indicated about a bag by a suspected person have also been recorded, it said. An FIR has been registered at the Counter Terrorism Department police station in Peshawar against unknown persons in connection with the case.
Medics at the Lady Reading Hospital said that majority of the injured were suffering from hearing loss and burn wounds. Up to 90 per cent of the injured were discharged after providing initial treatment, while those who had sustained serious wounds were admitted.
Tehreek-i-Taliban in Pakistan, which had been behind several attacks in Pakistan in the past, has denied any involvement in the attack and condemned it. Security sources told Dawn that a sophisticated timed device was used in the attack.
The attack does not bear the signature of usual suspects like Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan [TTP] and its other offshoots, a senior official said, adding that it appeared to be the handiwork of a rather well-trained and an organised new group. The explosives impact indicates that military-grade explosive or TNT was used in the attack, the source said, adding that perhaps why the blast left a big crater in the hard marble floor. Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday passed a unanimous resolution, condemning the attack.