The city of Quetta, plagued by sectarian violence and a separatist insurgency, suffered a deadly attack outside a seminary on Thursday, which left 14 people, including five children, dead and more than 48 others wounded.
A powerful bomb blast detonated outside the gates of a seminary near Bank Chowk on Saryab Link Road as a ceremony for students, who had memorised the Holy Quran was being held inside, police told reporters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadliest attack in the city since a car bomb killed 15 people last December. A majority of the victims were students of the seminary.
“Explosive materials were planted on a bicycle which was parked outside a religious seminary, Jamia Islamia Muftahul Elum. It was a remote-controlled bomb,” Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Qazi Abdul Wahid told reporters.
According to sources, three nephews of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) General Secretary and Senate opposition leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri were also injured in the blast.
Wahid said police had already been deputed in the area where the blast took place, adding that hundreds of students were present inside the seminary when the bomb exploded. Official sources confirmed the death toll.
“There is a law and order problem in Quetta. However, seminaries were not receiving any threats,” Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Quetta Mir Zubair told reporters.
According to the bomb disposal squad, a 5-6 kg explosive was used in the blast in which nearby cars and shops were also damaged. A heavy contingent of Frontier Corps (FC), police and rescue workers were deployed to the location of the blast. The deceased and injured were taken to Provincial Sandeman Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex Teaching Hospital.
“Five children were among the dead,” Doctor Mohammad Haider at Provincial Sandeman Hospital told reporters. Haji Khudai Nazar, 40, who was wounded in the abdomen, told AFP that he had come to attend the function as a guest.
“As soon as we got out of the car, there was a huge blast. Dust covered the whole area. People were crying. Afterwards – I fell unconscious,” he said.
(With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2012.
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