October 27th, 2020 

By Farzana Ali 


PESHAWAR 

An explosion at a madrassa in Dir Colony has targeted an Afghan religious leader of Spin Jamaat in an attempt to stoke sectarian conflict in the city. Reportedly, the bomb explosion left eight people dead and injured 100 others in the madrassa connected with the Deobandi school of thought.

Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, who has been target of assassination attempts thrice before, was this time targeted in the presence of children while inside a mosque holding classes. Dir Colony’s Spin Jamaat Madrassa and the nearby Madrassa Zubeiri have played an important role in imparting religious education to students from the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other provinces for many years. Of the 1100 students at the madrassa and the adjacent mosque some reside at Madrassa Zubeiri while mostly others stay in private rooms and other madrassas.

The blast occurred in the morning at the madrassa, just as about some 400 students were taking Hadith classes. Out of the injured students, 26 were from Afghanistan, 14 were from tribal districts, and five were from Balochistan. The identity of 19 other students could not be ascertained yet. Those injured included students from other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The dead included Zubair, a 28-year-old student from Afghanistan, and four others from the tribal districts. Three of the dead bodies had not been identified, till the filing of this report. An injured student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that announcements were made from a mosque to boost security in the locality two days before the explosion and the identity cards of students were being checked prior to entry into the madrassa.

Hayat Ullah, a student from Kabul, told Voicepk.net that usually about 1100 to 1200 students take classes in the madrassa and sit at the same place. “We had just finished a class when the explosion happened and I next woke up in a hospital,” he said.

AFGHAN CLERIC HAQQANI INJURED

After being injured in the blast Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, a chief scholar of the madrassa, was shifted as security of the nearby madrassa was increased. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Dr Sana Ullah Abbasi acknowledged that there was a general threat but it was not specific to the madrassa or the locality. He also acknowledged that there was a distinct threat of terrorist activity in the neighbouring Charsadda district. After six years of the attack on the Army Public School, students of madrassas are again being made a target. This is a challenge for the government while it may also be a hurdle for the opposition alliance of Pakistan Democratic Movement, as they plan to hold a Jalsa in Peshawar on the 22 November 2020.