Journalists assist a man who was injured in a suicide bomb attack at the site at the gate of the Press club in Peshawar, located in NWFP on December 22, 2009. – Reuters
Islamic Suicide bomber targets Peshawar Press Club
PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber on Tuesday attacked a Pakistan journalists’ club, killing three people in the first assault on media offices.
Strapped with explosives, the man walked up to the gate of the press club in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where he blew himself up as police stopped him from entering the building, officials said.
‘I was coming out of the canteen when I suddenly heard a huge blast. Smoke engulfed the building immediately and when I reached the spot, I saw human organs littered on the ground,’ said television journalist Nisar Mohammad Khan.
The force of the explosion blew out the windows at the press club, damaged the guard hut and ripped through nearby vehicles, said witnesses.
‘He was stopped by police deployed outside. When the police official started searching him, the attacker blew himself up,’ Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali told reporters at the scene.
Taliban militants, who are powerful in northwest Pakistan, threatened media in Peshawar, said the president of the press club, Shamim Shahid.
‘We beefed up security after the threats and people coming to the club were properly checked,’ he said.
Doctors at Peshawar’s main Lady Reading Hospital said three people were killed – a policeman, a press club employee and a woman.
Doctor Zafar Iqbal said 17 people were wounded and later clarified that an original death toll of four included the bomber.
Police said four journalists were among the wounded.
Bomb disposal squad chief Tanveer Ahmed said most of the casualties were caused by steel pellets and nails stuffed in the suicide bomber’s explosives vest.
North West Frontier Province information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who visited the wreckage, acknowledged that extra security measures in place for the holy Muslim month of Muharram could not totally eliminate attacks.
‘We have already taken special measures in view of Muharram but suicide attacks cannot be totally eliminated such incidents cannot be ruled out in future. But we will continue our struggle against terrorists,’ he said.