Six dead, 13 wounded in suicide attack on Khyber House

  • Grand jirga of political parties from FATA was in progress at the time of attack

At least six people, including five security personnel were killed, and 13 others were injured on Monday when suicide bombers attacked the Khyber Agency political agent’s office.

Two explosions and heavy gunfire was heard after the two suicide bombers stormed into the Khyber House, office of the Khyber Agency’s political agent. Police said that two suicide bombers attacked the Khyber House and blew themselves up, killing five security forces and a civilian, while injuring over a dozen others. Political Agent (PA) Mutahir Zeb, who was inside the building at the time of the attack, also received injuries. The blast also injured Landi Kotal Assistant Political Agent (APA) Khalid Mumtaz Kundi, and damaged his office.

According to eyewitnesses and police, politicians from Khyber Agency were having a meeting about the upcoming elections at the Khyber House when the bombers struck.

Police said the attackers, wearing uniforms of the Levies’ militia, came to the main gate of the Khyber House and asked the security personnel on duty to allow them to meet the political agent. But upon the refusal of the guards, the suicide bombers opened fire and forcefully entered the premises and blew themselves up inside the control room of the Khyber House after exchanging fire with security forces.

The dead and the injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital, where authorities confirmed the numbers of casualties. “We have six dead bodies and a dozen injured, including some with serious injuries,” said Jamal Shah, the hospital’s spokesman.

According to official sources, militants had attacked to free some detainees from the building. However, it has not yet been confirmed whether they attacked to free the captives or not.

The blast badly damaged the control room, reception, clerk’s room, the APA’s office and a veranda inside the political compound of the Khyber House. The blast also caused cracks in the nearby buildings and houses.

The bombers struck at a time when a grand jirga of several political parties from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was discussing the code of ethics for the upcoming general elections. While some official sources believed that the attackers wanted to free some detainees imprisoned at the Khyber House, other sources said that the target might be the leaders of various political parties.

The political agent’s office is situated on main Bara Road near Khyber Super Market in the cantonment area, where a large number of students and professionals also live. The area has been hit by terrorists three times in the past and more than one hundred people have been injured and dozens have been killed.

The blast caused fear and panic among the residents and a large number of students left the area to escape the attack. Some of the students did not get out of their rooms as there was intense firing going on between the attackers and the security forces.

Heavy contingents of security forces reached the site and sealed the buildings. The main Bara Road was blocked for all kinds of traffic, and a large-scale operation was launched in the nearby commercial building to trace out more terrorists.

The inspector general of Bomb Disposal Squad said that that each suicide jacket contained eight kilogrammes explosives, which badly damaged the Khyber House.

An eyewitness said, “There was intense firing between the militants and the security forces. Later, security forces evacuated us from the building. Where, I saw two dead bodies and blood everywhere.”

Niaz Ahmad Khan, a tribal leader, said that they had arranged a meeting regarding election reforms in FATA when the firing started, and then there was a heavy blast, followed by heavy firing.

Another eyewitness present inside the Khyber House said that a militant entered the office and opened fire on Levies forces. In response, security forces also started firing.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shaukatullah visited the Khyber House and strongly condemned the attack on government installations. He said that on one side the militants were launching attacks, while on the other hand they were talking about dialogue. He said that if such attacks continued in the future then the process of reconciliation and dialogue would be spoiled.

Those who were killed were identified as: Bakhtiar, son of Mohammad Alam, resident of Bara; Barakat Dad, resident of Bara; Hakeemullah, son of Zainullah; Misri Khan; and an unidentified civilian. Those who were injured were identified as: APA Khalid Mumtaz Kundi; Barkat Shah, son of Latif; Ghulam Saeed, son of Lal Badshah; Imam Bacha, son of Yarmad Shah; Zarghun, son of Jannat Shah; Rehman Shah, son of Hajar, a resident of Sangao; Shamsher, son of Mohammad Aslam; Shaukat Ali; Khalid; Imran; Haji Abas; and Iqbal.