A suspected suicide bombing killed at least 13 people and wounded 71 others today at a hotel near Islamabad’s Red Mosque, after religious students occupied the mosque and demanded the return of its pro-Taliban cleric.
The explosion occurred soon after police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who for several hours took control of the mosque which the government reopened to the public today – two weeks after a bloody army siege dislodged militants.
There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing, but Islamic militants will be suspected as behind what is the latest in a string of attacks to hit Pakistan since the army operation at the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in the Pakistani capital left at least 102 people dead.
Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said investigators had also recovered a head believed to be that of the attacker.
“We strongly believe that the head is of the suicide bomber,” he said. Cheema said the government had also received intelligence information about a possible suicide bombing in Aabpara, the market area where the hotel is located.
“There will be an inquiry for the security lapse,” he said. Khalid Pervez, Islamabad’s top administrator, said 13 people were killed, including seven police, and 71 were wounded.