PESHAWAR, Nov 20: Police arrested a would-be suicide bomber and his handler in Sarband area on the outskirts of Peshawar on Tuesday.
They said that a suicide vest and improvised explosive device were recovered from the possession of the arrested persons. They said that the 13-year-old boy, who was wearing a suicide vest, introduced himself as Bilal, a resident of Bar Qambarkhel area in Khyber Agency.
A police official said that the handler of the would-be suicide bomber was identified as Jahangir, 20, a resident of Momin Town in Peshawar. He was stated to be a teacher at a private school.
The source said that police had got information about two days ago that suicide bombers would enter the city to attack Muharram processions and law enforcers. That’s why security was tightened in the rural areas, he added.
The official said that after confirming their presence, police chased the terrorists when they were coming from tribal areas. Police arrested them at a filling station in Sarband, a town located on the main Bara Road close to Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, he added.
The official said that the handler possessed an improvised explosive device with a remote control but he avoided resistance and halted when warned by the police. The would-be suicide bomber, he said, was very frightened and the vest was removed from him when he lied on the ground.
“In the beginning, he asked police to avoid getting close to him but law enforcers controlled the situation and bomb disposal squad personnel completed the operation,” the official said.
The source said that during initial interrogation, the teacher denied having any link with the bomber. “I was coming from Bara side to Peshawar on a motorcycle when two men standing along the road asked me to take the boy to Peshawar with me as there was no public transport at that time,” the alleged handler was quoted as saying.
The official said that a joint investigation team was interrogating them separately. The boy was scared and needed medical treatment, he added.
He said that police signalled the motorcyclists for violating ban on pillion riding but the boy started running when the man stopped motorcycle. However, he lied on ground when police warned him, he added.
Police, however, didn’t disclose the name of the group to which the arrested persons belong.
An official of bomb disposal squad said that the suicide jacket weighed about eight kilograms that was successfully defused on the spot.
He said that it was a difficult operation but it had become a routine for them. “A suicide vest and a remote control are equal for us,” he said.
The operation also led to closure of the main Bara Road for more than an hour. The entire area was cordoned off by police and paramilitary forces.
Efforts were made to contact Capital City Police Officer Imtiaz Altaf but he could not be approached by telephone.