Car bombing attempt foiled

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Sep 1, 2013.

Islamabad – Police foiled a “major” car bombing incident in the federal capital when they seized a car rigged with explosives late on Friday night.

According to police, the car was discovered from a house in Phulgran, a village located around four kilometers East of Bhara Kahu on Islamabad’s outskirts.

Assistant Inspector General of Police (Operations) Sultan Azam Temuri said the car had 125 kilogrammes of explosives strapped inside its two right-side doors and also filled inside the car’s CNG cylinder.

The explosives were ready to be blown up with a remote control and could have affected people and buildings within a 200-yard radius of the car, police said.

Police personnel, acting on a tip, had raided a house in the Adil Heights residential area of Phulgran around 11:30pm on Friday, a police officer from the Bhara Kahu Police Station said.

The officer said the owner of the car, identified as Hammad Hussain, was sitting inside the vehicle, parked in the porch of the house, when police conducted the raid. But he escaped through a back door as police tried to enter the house, according to police.

Police impounded the vehicle and the Bomb Disposal Squad dismantled the explosives, including detonators, wires and ball bearings, from the car.

The car, registration number HK-522, is a Japanese-made Suzuki Alto and police are trying to trace its registration details, the police officer said.

Bhara Kahu police have registered a case against Hussain under section 4/5 of the Explosives Act. Temuri said no arrests have been made so far but some suspects were detained for questioning.

Police have also recovered a laptop from the house which has been sent to the Federal Investigations Agency’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes for analysis.

A senior police official, requesting anonymity, said the car bomb could have been used to cause a major terrorist incident in Islamabad.

“Important government buildings and sensitive installations could have been the target of the car bombing,” the official said.

But the official said it was too soon to connect the incident with the foiled suicide bombing attack at a Shia mosque in Bhara Kahu on August 9, the first day of Eidul Fitr. A suicide bomber had managed to get inside the mosque then but was shot down after his suicide vest malfunctioned and failed to explode.

That attack, police investigations have revealed, was planned at a house on Simly Dam Road, just a few kilometers from where the explosive-laden car was seized on Friday night.

Police said investigations were underway to determine where the explosives were bought and how they were transferred to the capital territory.

Security in Islamabad was put on high alert at the start of August amid a potential terrorist threat.

Since then, within a span of one month, the city has now witnessed three close calls with extremist activities: the August 9 foiled suicide bombing which resulted in the death of a mosque security guard, an hours-long stand-off with a lone gunman near the Red Zone on August 15 and now the seized explosive-laden car have kept the capital’s law enforcement agencies on their toes.

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