Those killed in the police station included Inspector Munawwar, Sub-Inspector Dawaee Khan, Constable Falak Niaz and Constable Shah Khan. Among the injured were Station House Officer (SHO) of the Hashtnagri Police Station, Gohar Zaman, who had rushed to the site after the attack and police constables Rifaqat, Ansoob Ali, Salim Khan, Muqaddar Shah and Amjad Javed. The limbs of the three suicide bombers were also recovered and sent for forensic examination. A hitherto unheard organisation, Abu Hafs Katibatul al-Ghurba al-Mujahideen, or Katiba al-Ghurba in short, claimed responsibility for the attack on the police station and said it was carried out to avenge the death of commander Badar Mansoor in a recent US drone strike.
Through an SMS message, the group’s unidentified spokesman termed it a Fidayee attack and said one of the targets was the Special Branch personnel at the police station. “Through these sacred operations we are sending a message to the secret agencies that they should stop killing our colleagues and hiding their bodies or be ready for even bigger attacks because we always seek revenge for the deaths of our comrades,” the message said.
A claim of responsibility was also made by the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, reportedly a front organisation for the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters that the attackers wanted to take the 372 cops hostage inside the police station to press the government for acceptance of their demands. “We fear more such attacks in other parts of the province,” he added.
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Imtiaz Altaf told reporters that the three suicide bombers first hurled a hand-grenade and then opened fire on the cops at the main gate. A source, however, said the sentries at the main gate of the police station were not alert and panicked.
They reportedly left the main gate open to be crossed without any hurdle. A wave of panic struck the cops in the rooms and barracks of the three-storey building of the police station that also hosts the offices and residential barracks of the District Reserve Police (DRP).
“The cops responded well and that is why the casualties were not that high,” said the city police chief. A source said one of the suicide bombers hugged Sub-Inspector Dawaee Khan and blew himself up. The attackers managed to shoot dead Inspector Munawwar of the DRP and two constables before other cops got alerted. The attackers also hurled hand-grenades while continuing firing and then detonated the explosives strapped to their bodies.
The CCPO said all the three attackers blew themselves up one by one inside the police station. However, the blasts triggered by the explosives in their vests did not cause any major casualty or damage to the police station building. “After the suicide bombers blew up, the security personnel carried out a search operation and cleared the area,” said Imtiaz Altaf.
He said the attack could be a reaction to the actions being carried out by security forces in different areas against the militants.
“We were asleep when we heard the explosions, followed by gunshots that continued for long,” said a resident Khalid Khan, adding that not only the schools in the vicinity remained closed on Friday but many parents also did not let their children go out of their homes after the incident.
The injured policemen were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital soon after the operation ended.
The walls of the police station were stained with blood of the policemen and bombers’ flesh. The blasts triggered by the suicide bombers also damaged parts of the police station.
The C Division Police Station, which was previously called Kotwali Police Station, is located in the thickly populated area of Peshawar close to the Begum Shahabuddin Higher Secondary School for Girls. Strict security arrangements have been made to secure the building with barricades and sandbags. The road where the police station is situated has been closed to traffic.
The funeral prayers for the slain cops were later offered at the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines, where Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, Speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Kiramatullah Khan, senior officers, cabinet members and politicians paid tribute to the fallen cops.