Burnt out vehicles, aftermath of blast at court, Shabqadar
(image via Khalid Khan)
Pakistan Tehreek -e -Taliban Jamaat -ul-Ahrar (TTP JA) have claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a sessions court in the Shabqadar area of Charsadda in which at least 15 people were killed and over 2 dozen others including women and children injured. Shabqadar is close to Mohmand tribal district, where the group are known to have a strong base though Pakistan military have been engaged in operation Zarb -e-Asb since June 2014 to clear the region of militants.
Khalid Khan a Pakistani cyber journalist reported that one man, “Noor Mohammad, lost his 5 year old child in Charsadda suicide blast today.” According to Express Tribune, “upon being asked to justify killing innocent civilians, the spokesperson replied, ‘we have not killed civilians. The court and judges were our target as their practices are un-Islamic.’”
Local media said vehicles were set ablaze and policemen were among the victims. The Nation stated,
“Reports suggest that the apparent suicide bomber was forestalled by a security official as he tried to enter the court premises. This prompted policemen to fire at the attacker, following which he blew himself up.
Eyewitnesses reveal that firing was heard after a loud blast. ‘The sound of the blast could be heard miles away,’ an eyewitness told Waqt News.”
The wounded were taken to the Tehsil hospital and the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
TTP JA spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan sent a statement to media saying they claim responsibility for the attack on Sessions court at Shabqadar as a protest for these courts sentencing innocent people to jail and for punishment through hanging. The attack is in revenge for the shahadat of Mumtaz Qadri.
Qadri was hung recently for the shooting and killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January 2011. Taseer had challenged blasphemy laws and highlighted his support for a Christian woman Asia Bibi who was charged with allegedly desecrating the Quran. Opponents of the law claim it is sometimes misused in personal revenge attacks against individuals. According to CNN Taseer wanted the law “changed in such a way that if you insult any prophet, no matter who he is, then that is a criminal offense. But certainly not punishable by death.” The issue raised great controversy. Qadri was viewed by some to be a hero with his hanging inciting protests across Pakistan.
Image of Qadri posted by Ehsanullah Ehsan
Ehsanullah Ehsan considers Taseer a blasphemer and had earlier posted a photo of Qadri with the following message,
“Mumtaz Qadri’s martyrdom is addition of a new chapter in the history of Muslim Ummah. Who has given a message to the youth of Muslim Ummah that you have to nurture the garden created by Allah’s Prophet with your blood. Mumtaz Qadri you will always remain in the hearts of Muslim Ummah.”
“Pic of Advocate Yousuf in Lady Reading Hospital, injured in Charadda suicide blast” (Posted by Khalid Khan)
Taimur Ali Q Mohmand tweeted the following letter dated 14th December 2015 which he claimed had earlier raised concerns about a possible future attack on District courts at Charsadda.
“Fed Govt saying they intimated KP Govt abot possible attack in Chd Dist Courts.Bt 2day blast was in Shabqadar courts”
(Tweet and image via Taimur Ali Q Mohmand)
AAP reported Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who condemned the attack stating,
“The nation stands united in its commitment to wipe out this menace from our soil.
Those who embraced martyrdom in the line of duty sacrificed their lives today to safeguard a peaceful tomorrow for our future generations and they deserve gratitude and recognition of the highest degree.”
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Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.