Monday, June 8, 2009

Lahore-style strike on Islamabad Rescue 15


By Munawer Azeem

ISLAMABAD: Two policemen were killed after a young man carried out a suicide attack against Rescue 15, a police helpline unit, in the federal capital on Saturday. At least four other policemen were injured.

The attack on the Rescue 15 in Sector G-8, 10 days after the one in Lahore last month, took place around 8.35pm, barely 24 hours after a bomb blast in a mosque in Dir.

Sources said that intelligence agencies had warned about the attack, saying that some terrorists, including suicide attackers and five explosives-laden vehicles, had entered the capital.

The suicide bomber, wearing a vest filled with three or four kilograms of explosives, somehow evaded police lookouts on the roof and the front and back entrances, entering the premises through a gaping hole in an under-construction wall behind the building.

When a police guard, Constable Imtiaz, spotted him and asked to prove his identity, he ran towards the Moharrar's office and blew himself up.

The suicide bomber and Constable Munawar, the night shift Moharrar, were killed instantly. The deputy Moharrar, Salahuddin, police guard Imtiaz, and three other policemen - Ramzan, Anwar, Tariq - were injured.

Pieces of human flesh were seen scattered inside and outside the police unit premises.

A thick cloud of smoke hung over the atmosphere.

The injured policemen were shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, where the deputy moharrar died.

A policeman guarding the roof was missing, but police officials said that he might have been injured and in hospital for medical treatment.

Investigators found two legs, a hand and scraps of scalp from the scene.

Sources said that some shots had been fired by accomplices of the suicide bomber to enable him to reach his target. Police guards fired back at the terrorists. They said that a suspect was rounded up with weapons used in the shooting shortly after the blast.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Bin Yameen said that the bomber was 22- or 23-year-old.

About the shootout after the attack and arrest of the suspect, the DIG said shots were fired by a police guard when he spotted the suicide bomber walking towards the office, but did not give any details about the arrest.

The Rescue 15 unit works in two shifts, accommodating 25 police personnel. Offices of the SP (City) and (Industrial Area) and the DSP are also located there.

At the time of the incident, there were 10 police personnel performing duty - four at the helpline unit, two or three in the Moharrar's office and three guarding the premises.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the attack was a reaction to the Swat operation, adding that security agencies were fully alert.

He said that eight of the 50 would-be suicide bombers sent by the chief of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, had been arrested.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the suicide bombing and said that such acts of barbarism would not deter the government from going after the militants.

‘Militants, who are on the run, have become desperate but they will not escape their ignoble end,' an official statement quoted the president as saying.

Praising the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty, the president said that such attacks ‘only strengthens the resolve of the people and the law enforcement agencies to wipe out extremism and militancy.'

‘Such ... senseless killings ... should serve as a wake up call to apologists of militants and extremists.'


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