Horrific attack: Terror revisits Quetta

Published: February 17, 2013

A market engulfed in flames (L) set off by the massive bomb attack in Quetta. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD ZAFAR

A young man mourns the death of his brother at a hospital. PHOTO: REUTERS A market engulfed in flames (L) set off by the massive bomb attack in Quetta. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD ZAFAR
QUETTA: 

In a ghastly attack reminiscent of the double blasts early last month, a massive bomb ripped though a busy market in a Shia Hazara neighbourhood of Quetta Saturday afternoon, killing at least 67 people and injuring nearly 200.

The outlawed sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing, which came 36 days after President Asif Ali Zardari imposed governor’s rule in Balochistan as was demanded by the Hazara community.

A water tanker mounted on a tractor-trolley and rigged with hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives was remotely detonated when the market was packed with shoppers. The water tanker was parked near the pillars of a double-storey shopping plaza on Kirani Road next to Hazara Town, which collapsed with the impact of the blast.

“At least 67 people have been killed and 185 injured – some of them critically,” Quetta Commissioner Qambar Dashti told The Express Tribune.

“Most of the victims were from the Shia Hazara community,” Mir Zubair Mehmood, the capital city police officer (CCPO), told reporters. He refused to speculate about the nature of the blast.

Witnesses said the explosion occurred moments after the tractor towing the water tanker turned into a side- street on Kirani Road suggesting that it was being driven by a suicide bomber. However, Wazir Khan Nasir, the deputy inspector general of police, said the explosives were remotely triggered. “The target was the Shia Hazara community,” he added.

The double-storey shopping plaza and dozens of nearby shops were reduced to rubbles. “We fear that several people have been trapped inside. Rescue work is ongoing but I see very little chance of their survival,” CCPO Mehmood said raising fears that the death toll might go up.

According to a Bomb Disposal Squad official, the water tanker was packed with 800-1,000 kilogrammes of explosives. The explosion created a 16 feet long, 14 feet wide and 6 feet deep crater in the middle of the road, he added. “More than two dozen vehicles were also damaged.”

The blast was heard within a radius of 15 kilometres, residents said, adding that windows of several houses were shattered and multi-storey buildings in the neighbourhood shook with the thud of the explosion.

Hazara community members rushed to help the victims much before police and paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel reached the site. Later they were joined by rescuers and fire crew. The casualties were driven to the Bolan Medical College Teaching Hospital and Civil Hospital where a state of emergency was declared. Those with life-threatening wounds were referred to the Combined Military Hospital in the cantonment area.

“We have shifted the casualties, including women and children, to the BMCH, CMH and Civil Hospital,” a rescue worker told The Express Tribune. “Most of the injured were in critical condition.”

Media persons were not allowed near the blast site for security reasons. A purported spokesperson for LeJ, Abu Bakar Sadiq, claimed responsibility for, what he called suicide attack, in a phone call to media offices from an undisclosed location. He identified the bomber as Umar Farooq.

Governor Nawab Zulfikar Magsi announced a Rs100-million reward for information leading to the arrest of perpetrators of the blast. He also announced a monetary compensation of Rs1 million for the heirs of each of the victims.

Incensed by the deadly bombing, hundreds of Hazara community members took to the streets in several neighborhoods, including Brewery Road and Kirani Road. They threw stones at the vehicles and shops to vent their anger.

Shia representative organisations, including Hazara Democratic Party, Majlis-e-Wadat-e-Muslimeen and Tahafuz Hazadari Council, condemned the bomb attack and announced seven-day mourning.

It was the second deadliest bomb attack on the Hazara community in hardly over a month. On January 10, two suicide bombers struck in the Alamdar Road area of Quetta, killing nearly 100 people – most of them Hazaras. Subsequently, the community members held a four-day long vigil, with bodies of victims by their side, which led to the imposition of governor’s rule in the province.

President Asif Zardari, Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, as well as Sindh and Punjab governors denounced the attack. All mainstream political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also condemned the blast.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also announced a day of mourning across the province on Sunday.

(With additional input from agencies)

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Mary D'costa, Goa,India
    Feb 17, 2013 - 11:06AM

    Sad, RIP victims. Its time for introspection as to why this religious madness is spreading? Why should one religion/sect claim moral superiority in Pakistan? Why should even after so much bloodshed, why should Pakistan not become SECULAR?

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  • Raj - USA
    Feb 17, 2013 - 11:06AM

    Such a horrific act of terror and still not even one leader or public figure in Pakistan has come up with a strong statement of condemnation. They were all quick to condemn Afzal Guru’s hanging because he was a terrorist and also a sunni muslim of India. Had he been a shia Indian muslim, no one would have bothered. Terrorist supporters like Lala Gee would post links of Gujrat and Babri Masjid but this is Gujrat massacre of Shias happening in Pakistan every day. How many shias have been killed in the year 2013 alone and how many Shias killed in the last 5 years in Pakistan. Likes of Lala Gee are not seen here, enjoying ladoo I would guess, similar to what they did when Mumbai attacks were in progress. Such minds can only glorify terrorists. To top it, these are the educated section of Pakistan who see injustice when committed elsewhere but have no qualms if they commit it themselves with vengeance and hatred. Where are the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Rehman Malik who offered asylum to Shahrukh Khan when hundreds of Hindu families were fleeing Pakistan?

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  • Ramakrishnan R
    Feb 17, 2013 - 11:12AM

    Yet another tragic reminder that the policy followed by the Military dominated “Deep State” of Pakistan of nurturing terrorists to unleash upon India and elsewhere cloaked in the veneer of providing “diplomatic and moral support” to “freedom fighting” “Mujahideen”, is not without peril to Pakistan herself.

    In the aftermath of this tragedy Pakistanis will do well to pay heed to the advice given to them by Hillary Clinton namely that “you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.”

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  • Ali shah
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:05PM

    This is complete failure of state, army and judiciary. If government can’t protect citizens it has no right to continue. Army should really step-in at this critical juncture of time. Our country is fastly becoming lawless which will lead us to much bigger destruction in the future.

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  • Roshan
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:11PM

    The Hazaras should ask NATO for their protection in the land of pure which has proven to be their graveyard. For a single Palestinian causality we protest throughout Pakistan while showing numbness when it comes to Shia genocide in Pakistan.
    History will someday punish us for being indifferent to massacre of innocents human beings. I’m pretty sure Israel, India & USA are safer places for Shia Muslims.

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  • Tony Singh
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:19PM

    Looking for “Lala Gee”. Has he gone into deep slumber?

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  • james
    Feb 17, 2013 - 2:08PM

    very sad indeed

    a conspiracy theory circles very strongly and with each passing incident of such a nature solidfy such a theory…….

    the pattern of such attacks is 100% similar to those attacks as had happened or continue to happen in Iraq…. the capacity n capability of such attacks is far beyond the reach of local extremists………..

    then the Q arises WHY & WHAT are the interests of people other than locals………..

    Answer is fairly simple

    “Next 2 years are dedicated for EXIT; either we should have bent to Qadri’s demands and setup a caretaker govt; that was a peaceful way or

    else wise they would force us to install caretakers through creating law n order situations………………

    because

    they think that only caretakers can gurantee A SAFE AND PEACEFUL EXIT

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  • sajid hussain
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:39PM

    i want only to ask why they are killing our peoples what’s there problem with us what’ bat we have don that they are killing us why they are attacking from back site if they want any thing from us we will give we decite between each other and will give so why they are killing our father,mother,sister,brother why dont they are filling shy from god .im only requesting from my all hazara people to pray god and read holy quran thx god will save we all .

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  • Nadjif Haladeen
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:54PM

    Leaders have done little to contain hardline groupsRecommend

  • ex paki
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:58PM

    @Roshan: Roshan Sahib, Sure Shias may request NATO for protection. But given such situation, I pray to all people of the world to TAKE POLICE ACTION, exactly as India did in 1971 in East Pakistan. If that was then justifies, then its more justified today to save a community of Shias.

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  • Critics
    Feb 17, 2013 - 11:28PM

    Land of pure? Land of pure corrupt leaders is better name. I think this time the justice wakes up and act??? Is there Justice and security or Should NATO come and sit in Balochistan for security and justice? I think it is time for some Godly way of justification!!!

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  • Feb 17, 2013 - 11:37PM

    The persons sitting in the administration and the law enforcing agencies endorse the mindsets of extremists and are reluctant to take action against them( L e J). it is futile to expect protection from the existing set up. God too helps those who help themselves.

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  • ajavrik
    Feb 18, 2013 - 8:55PM

    no one calls it genocide.
    there is no un interest.
    are not they human beings?
    belive me there is nobody know outside pakistan about such a tragedy.
    and you know?nobody cares!
    guess,what is an agenda in the world?
    yes, you know!
    there is only one place and people on the earth to blame and to show the worry.to show they care and aware.
    say it is not true!

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