ATTOCK (Neo Web Desk): At least five people were killed Sunday when a powerful explosion rocked the political office of Punjab Home Minister Col (r) Shuja Khanzada in Attock, with the retired colonel critically wounded in the suspected suicide attack.
Hospital sources told that Khanzada has now been moved to a hospital but the provincial home minister is said to be in a critical condition.
According to reports, a jirga was underway at Khanzada’s political office in his native Shadi Khan village when a suicide attacker detonated his explosives. The blast caused the roof of the building to collapse under which Khanzada and other people trapped for over two hours.
Rescue 1122 spokesperson Deeba Shahnaz confirmed that five bodies have been recovered from the debris.
“We responded as soon as we received information from Attock. So far, five people have expired while three have been recovered alive. The injured are critical and have immediately been shifted to the Attock District Headqaurters (DHQ) hospital Attock,” Shahnaz told Geo News.
The identities of the dead could not yet be ascertained.
According to eyewitnesses and rescue sources, between 20 and 25 people were still trapped under the rubble.
Speaking to Neo News from the location earlier, the provincial home minister’s son Sohrab Khanzada said he was in the kitchen when the blast rocked the building with such intensity that it caused the entire building to collapse. He said that rescue workers were trying to retrieve the injured and dead from underneath the debris.
Multiple reports suggested that the blast was a suicide attack, but the reports could not be confirmed from police or government officials.
Eyewitnesses said rescue workers were facing difficulties in the operation due to a lack of required heavy machinery to remove the rubble.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack, while Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has also expressed condolences for the people killed in the blast.
Nisar has directed for provision of a helicopter from the Interior Ministry for shifting the injured on emergency basis, while he has also instructed army and air force personnel to aid in the rescue operation.
The ISPR said that special search and rescue team have been dispatched by helicopter to aid in the rescue operation in Attock.
Hospitals in Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been put on high alert due to the high number of expected casualties from the explosion.