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Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claims responsibility for the slayings.
By Zahir Shah and Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR – A suicide attack November 7 in the Qissa Khwani Bazaar killed Superintendent of Police (SP) for Investigation Hilal Haider, two bodyguards and three civilians, Pakistani officials said. Another 36 people were injured in the attack.
The suicide bomber targeted Haider’s car in front of the Khan Raziq Police Station in Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Asif Iqbal, superintendent of police (city), told Central Asia Online.
The bomber used 6-7kg of explosives and wore a suicide vest containing “pellets and ball bearings,” Iqbal said, adding the explosion destroyed Haider’s vehicle. Six of the injured are in critical condition, Syed Jamil Shah, Lady Reading Hospital spokesman, told Central Asia Online.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed responsibility, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government vowed to continue the war on terror until the militants’ defeat.
The attack rocked the area, witnesses said. “I was going to work when I heard a huge blast, but when I turned around saw a huge (column of) smoke,” a wounded survivor, Sarmad, told Central Asia Online. “Then I fell unconscious and woke up at the hospital.”
Others described the widespread devastation.
“I was going to the local courts (for personal legal business) and had come to the Khyber Bazaar to meet a friend when I saw this white pick-up and a man running toward it,” recalled another injured survivor, Farman Shah. “There was a huge explosion, after which I don’t know what happened; it was dark all around after the deafening blast.”
“I was near the Khan Raziq Police Station when I heard the blast and saw a white pick-up was on fire and people were lying on the ground screaming,” said Muhammad Iqbal, who runs a grocery shop and received pellets in his legs, told Central Asia Online.
“The white pick-up and a rickshaw were on fire, and electrical wires were lying on the ground and the people were screaming; it was like hell,” he said.
Senior KP Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour denounced the murders, terming the attack gruesome and cowardly.
“This attack shows it’s nobody else’s war but our own war,” he said. “We should continue fighting it until it is won.”
“It was meant to achieve nothing but to terrorise the people of Peshawar,” he said. “They could not do it, as you can see a lot of people standing on the spot and helping the injured along with the government agencies.”
“I want to tell them: they cannot shatter our will or terrorise us,” he said. “Such an attack increases our will and commitment to hit them back with full force, and we shall be hitting them back with full might.”
“It’s a war for all of humanity and the world,” he added. “The political parties and peace-loving forces should join hands to get rid of (terrorism).”
Previous attacks on police
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Riaz Khan called Haider a brave and honest police officer who served the force with dignity.
"He was a committed cop and a thorough gentleman. He was always helpful to his subordinates in better performing their duties whether it was during his posting as [Station House Officer], DSP or SP," Khan said.
Haider is the second Peshawar SP killed in the past three weeks. Rural SP Khurshid Khan was among six officers killed by militants in a battle in Matani.
In March, a suicide attack killed another SP, Kalam Khan, in Pishtakhara Chowk.
Haider, born in 1955, began his career as an assistant sub-inspector in 1975 and was promoted to sub-inspector in 1991 and to inspector in 1997. He became deputy SP in 2007 and served in Nowshera, Kohat, Peshawar and the Special Branch before becoming SP for Investigation last year.