PESHAWAR: At least 26 people were killed and 50 others injured as a suicide bomber exploded himself near a National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Tuesday.
The explosion ripped through the front entrance of the regional branch of NADRA. “At least 26 people have been killed and more than 50 injured,” said provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani. “[The] condition of 11 of them is still critical,” he added.
The blast took place at a time when the office was crowded with people lining up to make applications for Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs).
Deputy Inspector General Mardan Division Saeed Wazir said the blast was a suicide attack carried out by a bomber. He added that a security guard posted at the office stopped the bomber at the gate, after which he detonated his suicide vest. The suicide attacker was on a motorbike and rammed it into the gate after being denied entry, he said. District Police Officer Faisal Shahzad said the suicide bomber was riding a motorbike. “Apparently the target was the queue as there were around 400 people standing there,” he said. Conflicting reports suggest that explosives may have been planted on a motorcycle parked near the NADRA office.
Some of those critically wounded were taken to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar city. Tariq Munir, a NADRA employee, told Daily Times that they were busy in work when a huge explosion occurred at the entrance of the premises just after the lunch break. “More than 200 people were present inside when the blast took place,” he said. Tariq said that the security guard at the entrance tried to stop the attacker before he exploded himself. “He embraced martyrdom but saved many lives. There is blood and body parts everywhere in front section of the main building,” he said.
Officials of the Bomb Disposal Unit that reached the scene said around eight to 10 kg of explosive material was used in the attack. According to initial reports, the powerful blast took place near the gate of the office and damaged doors and windows of the building. The area was cordoned off as rescue and security sources rushed to the site. The injured were shifted to Mardan Medical Complex, while an emergency was declared at all medical facilities in the area.
Dr Zulfiqar Durrani, medical superintendent of Bacha Khan Medical Complex, said the hospital has received 16 bodies and 34 injured persons. “The hospital is on high alert and doctors are doing their best to save lives of the wounded persons,” he added.
The attack was claimed by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar, which was also behind last year’s deadly blast at Wagah Border.
In an email sent to media by their spokesman, Ihsanullah Ihsan, reads, “NADRA is an integral part of the State and any such targets that directly or indirectly work for the State will be our target.” However, TTP central spokesman Mohammad Khorasani in a statement distanced his group from the Mardan attack, saying, “We have nothing to do with blasts at public places,” reported BBC Urdu.
The NADRA office is located on the link road that connects Charsadda to Mardan. Mardan has seen several terrorist attacks over the past several years — many
of them targeting security officials. Earlier in December, a search and strike operation was launched in Mardan, resulting in the arrest of about 327 suspected persons, including 16 illegally staying Afghan nationals, and persons involved in various crimes.