- Suicide bomber targets hotel frequented by Shias in Qissa Khwani Bazaar
- Prominent Shia leader gunned down sparking protests by minority community
Eight people were killed and more than 42 others injured when a powerful explosion carried out by a suicide bomber ripped through a local hotel frequented mostly by Shias in the Qissa Khwani Bazaar area of the provincial capital on Tuesday.
The incident took place at Pak Hotel near Imambargah Alamdar in Kucha Risaldar, a Shia dominated neighbourhood of Peshawar.
Police officer Rizwan Khan said that the hotel is frequented mostly by Shias who visit Imambargah Alamdar next door. Most of the dead and wounded were Shias, he added.
The blast came as talks between government negotiators and representatives from the Pakistani Taliban designed to end years of fighting in the northwest were delayed.
Confirming the death toll, Superintendent Police (SP) City Muhammad Faisal Mukhtar said it was a suicide attack.
Provincial Health Minister Shaukat Yousufzai told reporters that eight people were killed and 42 others injured in the suicide bombing. “Six of the dead have been identified,” he said.
Injured in reportedly critical condition were taken to Lady Reading Hospital where an emergency had been imposed.
Jamil Shah, media coordinator at LRH earlier said that six dead bodies and 32 injured have been brought in the hospital. Women and children were among the injured, he said.
SHIA LEADER GUNNED DOWN:
Earlier, a prominent Shia leader was shot dead in the Qissa Khwani area, sparking a protest outside a hospital where his body was taken.
The killing comes just weeks after a Shia scholar was gunned down in the same city.
“Haji Sardar Ali was shot dead in the morning in Qissa Khwani bazaar,” senior police official Faisal Mukhtar said.
Ali headed the local branch of the Tehreek Nafaz-e-Fiqah-e-Jafaria.
Zaheerul Islam, the deputy commissioner of Peshawar, confirmed the incident.
“Haji Sardar Ali owned a general store in (the) bazaar. He was going to his shop when unknown gunmen shot him dead,” he said.
Ali was rushed to the city’s Lady Reading Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival, Mukhtar said.
Around a hundred Shias gathered outside the hospital and chanted slogans demanding the arrest of the attackers.
There has been no claim of responsibility so far.
“It looks like a sectarian target killing but the police are still investigating the case,” Mukhtar said.
Scholar Allama Alim Al-Musvi was shot while walking to the mosque in the same bazaar on January 20.