Khyber Paktunkhwa Inspector-General Moazzam Jah Ansari says nobody will be allowed to play with the peace and security of the province.
He was addressing on Thursday a press conference about the status of the investigation into the horrific January 30 Peshawar suicide bomb blast at a mosque inside a highly sensitive police headquarters which claimed over 100 lives.
The attack took place during afternoon worship. An entire wall and some of its roof was blown out. Bloodied survivors emerged limping from the wreckage, while bodies were ferried away in ambulances.
The police headquarters in Peshawar is in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and is next door to the regional secretariat.
“Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had said in a statement after the blast.
The drastic security breach came on the day United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had been due to visit Islamabad, although the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather.
The security situation in Pakistan has deteriorated since the return of the Afghan Taliban in Kabul. Islamabad has accused the new rulers of failing to secure their mountainous border, allowing militants to travel back and forth without being detected.
During Thursday’s presser, the KP IG shared that the police was “closing in” on the terror network behind the suicide attack. The police has acquired closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage of the bomber. It shows the bomber “clad in a police uniform” and face mask and riding a motorcycle.
He shared that the Police Lines did not check the bomber as they thought “he was their own”.
“The explosion was so powerful that the shockwaves did not find ways to escape, hence, forcing the roof of the mosque to collapse,” said IG Ansari. He added that the mosque also lacked pillars and everyone in the mosque at the time of the attack came under roof debris.
The KP police chief said that close to 10-12kgs of trinitrotoluene (TNT) was used in the attack.
“It took us 26-28 hours to clean up. We could have done cleaning in mere two hours. But our first target was to look for survivors then we went towards extracting the martyrs,” said IG Ansari.
IG Ansari, while refuting all conspiracies that had emerged relating to the suicide attack in Peshawar, pleaded to the public not to “provoke his force”.
“We will avenge every drop of blood of our martyrs,” assured KP’s top cop.
Referring to those spreading rumours, Ansari urged them not to create hurdles for the police and to let them to their work.
“We want to deliver to our families and our children. Do not make the bodies of our loved ones a subject of politics. Kindly end the speculations and let us do our work,” said IG Ansari. He added that he will share all details once the investigation is complete.
‘More time needed’
The IG assured that he would avenge the deaths of the people martyred in the blast but appealed for time to complete the investigation.
While explaining the time taken in the investigation, the police chief said that it takes one person 24 hours to scan a day’s footage and 100 people are required to look at all cameras. He also shared that he himself had seen the footage of the suicide bomber.
“I have seen his face in the CCTV [footage] and we have crosschecked. He is dressed in a police uniform with a casual jacket. He was wearing a helmet on a motorcycle. We have also traced the bike and we are in the stage of tracing further details,” he said.
“We are close to [tracing] the network of terrorists behind the attack,” said IG Ansari.
While expressing his grief over the attack caused due to the security lapse, IG Ansari said: “I blame myself for the security lapse. My jawans are all my children. They did not stop the bomber as they considered it him one of their own as the bomber was in a police uniform.”
‘Not a lone ranger’
He shared that the bomber entered the mosque at 12:37pm, adding that he asked one of the police constables about the mosque. He added that his question indicates that he was unaware of the place and was sent by someone to carry out the attack.
He further noted that: “There’s a complete network behind him. He is not a lone ranger. We will talk with the evidence in hand. We are burning the midnight oil in this investigation and we are exploring every possibility.”
Regarding the provocation, he said: “We were busy in funeral preparations and the conspiracies were attempted to provoke our people to launch a protest. If they take the law into their own hands then who would be the law enforcer in the streets?”
“My people do not need the protection of anyone because they are the protectors. Some nefarious elements have made this issue controversial. I have conveyed to everyone that your way is not of protest but help in finding the bomber,” he concluded.