At least 15 killed in suicide blast near polio centre in Quetta

Published: January 13, 2016
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

QUETTA: A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polio vaccination centre in Quetta on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people, mainly police, officials said.

The policemen had been gathering outside the centre to accompany polio workers on the third day of a vaccination campaign which are frequently targeted by Taliban and other Islamist militant groups in Pakistan.

“There are 15 dead, including 12 police, one paramilitary, and two civilians,” a local police official told AFP.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti added: “So far 15 people have been injured in the blast, seven of whom are in critical condition.”

Some officials had begun to gather evidence from the scene while others were collecting body parts to put in bags.

Eye-witness Shabir Ahmed, a 32-year-old police constable, told AFP he had been deployed to protect a polio vaccination team that was due to leave for various neighbourhoods of Quetta at 10 am.

“Suddenly there was a loud bang and I fell to the ground, I could not see anything, there was dust everywhere,” he said.

“Then I heard people screaming and sirens of ambulances,” he continued, adding he had received shrapnel wounds to his stomach, hands, legs and feet.

PHOTO: AFP

Two terrorists arrested for polio team killings: CTD

Anwarul Haq Kakar, a spokesperson for the provincial government, vowed the polio immunisation drive would continue.

“We won’t allow the nefarious designs of the terrorists to succeed, we will eliminate polio,” he said.

Of the 15 killed, 12 were part of the police force, one from the frontier corps and another a civilian.

PHOTO: AFP

Vehicle of polio drive supervisor targeted in Parachinar

TTP claims responsibility

Meanwhile, the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

“A TTP’s special unit carried out successful attack at Quetta’s Satellite Town area, killing and injuring several security officials,” the TTP spokesperson, Mohammad Khorasani said.

PHOTO: AFP

Such attacks on security forces are not rare in the region. Two police personnel were shot dead on January 8 when unidentified armed men opened fire at them outside a mosque in Multani Muhala.

PHOTO: AFP

The latest attack comes as a suicide bombing struck near the Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad city, killing two people just days after four-country talks aimed at reviving Taliban peace negotiations commenced in Islamabad.

Pakistan is one of only two countries where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic. Attempts to eradicate it have been badly hit by militant attacks on immunisation teams that have claimed nearly 80 lives since December 2012.

In 2014 the number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan soared to 306, the highest in 14 years.

PHOTO: AFP

The most recent attack came in November last year, when unknown gunmen shot and killed the head of an immunisation programme in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district of Swabi.

Militant opposition to all forms of inoculation mounted after the CIA organised a fake vaccination drive to help track down al Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.

Personal enmity: Cop accompanying polio team attacked

The terror chief was killed during a US special forces raid in 2011.

Balochistan, is also home to a raging insurgency that has claimed the lives of hundreds of soldiers and militants since it re-ignited in 2004, with rebels often attacking government installations and personnel.

The province’s roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

President, prime minister condemn Quetta blast

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast on Wednesday. In their separate statements, the two leaders expressed deep sorrow and grief on the loss of life, Radio Pakistan reported.

“The government is committed to stamp out extremism from the country and the operation will continue till elimination of terrorism,” the premier said in a statement. “The Pakistan Army has destroyed hideouts of terrorists and is now engaged to eliminate terrorists,” the statement added.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Balochistan Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and leaders of different political parties have also condemned the blast.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • goldconsumer
    Jan 13, 2016 - 10:29AM

    Clearly, after recent success against polio this was expected.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Jan 13, 2016 - 10:35AM

    Quette is totally locked down by the security services. How did this happen? Is the establishment trying to show Baluchistan as dangerous to avoid the western route through it?Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Jan 13, 2016 - 12:17PM

    Pakistan is on the verge of wiping out polio from Pakistan and these terrorists do not want this to happen. Few of their handlers should be caught. They should not be killed but their limbs should be amputated so that they live and feel the pain they are inflicting on children. Recommend

  • Pinto
    Jan 13, 2016 - 12:28PM

    As u sow, so shall u reapRecommend

  • Rashid
    Jan 13, 2016 - 1:07PM

    Probably retaliation from the Indian side.Recommend

  • Faruk
    Jan 13, 2016 - 1:41PM

    Can I ask our government who is behind killing polio workers? Who doesn’t want our children to be vaccinated against polio? Big question is it India? Is it Afghanistan? Why our Prime Minister is quiet? Why home minister is quiet? If this had happened in India they would have cried like women, and blamed Pakistan. We don’t blame anybody, I must admit we Pakistanis are very brave, can I ask home Minister of Bluchistan do you know who is behind every attack happens in your Provence or you are same as others? It’s shameful. Recommend

  • Hashaam Masood
    Jan 13, 2016 - 5:41PM

    Probably 10% of the population passively support these Jihadists. We need a program to deradicalize this 10% because it from this fertile soil that the terrorists spring.Recommend

  • ZAIDI, Iqbal Hadi
    Jan 13, 2016 - 6:56PM

    What to say what not to say? Let me very blunt, if not annoying, almost each day I while sitting in Kuwait see on our different TV channels and read in newspapers about innocent people who are being killed and the situation is universally applicable to all our provinces, of course varying in intensity and numbers. Do you allow me to pose a very pricking and piercing question, if you do not mind, as to what has gone so wrong in my beloved Pakistan since I left it in 1976 to work overseas and from that time till today I am outside Pakistan? I very well remember that way back when I was very much stationed in Lahore and very often travelled all around since my father was engineer in railway, I hardly had noticed that during that era people were not killed even on monthly or fortnightly basis what to talk of daily or on alternate days which is very much vogue at this point of time. Please do not be driven and carried away simply because I am not trying to prove that Pakistan was none but a crime free country till 1976 as some may likely to construe but the point is that lives were not facing imminent dangers. Very much regretfully now one way or the other, none is safe in Pakistan which is very much alarming to be honest and it demands of us to devise some mechanism and take real concrete logistical steps so that confidence is built up in my compatriots that their lives are no more at risk and they can feel safe and secured. Very much ironically and regretfully speaking in Islamic Republic of Pakistan we have already reached to the point of no return where none is safe whether one talks of male or female or, for that matter, a person in uniform or otherwise as each one of them both individually and collectively are equally prey to those who are our blood suckers. Army which is the strongest entity is not spared either and time and again our army men and army installations have been targeted by the daring devils while religious institutions too were hit and so many lives have been lost there too. Even today, tears roll down thinking of the barbaric attack on army school children killing so many pure innocent lives in three digits in just one go. Who are our blood suckers and how and why we are unable to catch them or more correctly how do we provide them an opportune to strike and spill blood of the innocent lives? As and when an incident of the sort happens we notice that the area where people have died is sealed all around by police, rangers and other security agencies and an investigation committee is formed to dig deep as to who master minded it and why.
    On the face of it in this incident of Quetta which happened just this morning it is quite crystal clear without any shadow of doubt that our police was targeted and that is why as many as 15 police officials are killed and, God forbid, a few more die or become handicapped eventually. Police is established to ensure that there is complete peace and tranquility in the country and if anyone tries to take law in his hand then he will have to regret and face the dire consequences but if, on the contra, the police itself is attacked then whom to blame or for that matter what to do then is a really very baffling question which needs an answer and cannot and should not be ignored either.
    Summing up, I wish I am wrong which perhaps I am not, in the first instance chances are remote that the accused be caught as mostly it had been experienced alike in the past by us and if at all they are caught and the case goes to court of law then it will be dragged on many counts for such an indefinite period that at some stage the case may be eventually be closed and those put behind bars come out with smiling faces. It is heartening to know that President Mamnoon and PM Nawaz has very in very strong and ruthless words have condemned the incident and both of them have also offered their heartfelt condolences on the loss of the lives but let me pen that each time on such like incident they react alike but the question is how and why they cannot get it stopped? Will our VVIPs condemnation and or condolences can bring back those who lost their lives for none if their fault? The crux is that at this point of time we need nothing short of real strong and rattling deterrent and not just the words if one can understand me. I pray Allah to bless the souls who lost their lives in Quetta and give courage and strength to their families to bear the loss. Shouldn’t I construe that Tuesday 12th January, 2016 is the last day for killing and it will not be repeated again throughout the country, aameen? Pakistan Paindabad! Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait / [email protected]Recommend

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