QUETTA: A suicide bomb attack targeting a convoy of the paramilitary Frontier Corps killed at least five people – including a woman – and injured 26 others in a busy neighbourhood of Quetta on Saturday morning.
The FC convoy was en route to pick up Colonel Ishtiaq, the commandant of the Chiltan Rifle, when a suicide bomber detonated the explosives near one of the vehicles on Sariab Road.
At least five people, including a woman, were killed and 25 others, among them FC personnel, women and children, were wounded.
“The suicide bomber was waiting near a roadside restaurant. He triggered his explosive vest when the FC vehicle drove past him,” DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema said. “Apparently, the bomber wanted to target Commandant Colonel Ishtiaq.”
Law enforcers cordoned off the bombsite immediately after the bombing as rescuers ferried the casualties to the Civil and FC hospitals. One woman expired while receiving treatment at the Trauma Centre.
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Eyewitness Muhammad Iqbal said a cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the site after an ear-splitting bang. “I rushed out of my home to see my son running back with bruises,” he told The Express Tribune.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the suicide attack. Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri also denounced the bombing and directed officials to step up security across the city.
Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti and the FC inspector general visited the site and vowed no mercy for terrorists.
“Terrorists have been launching attacks on security personnel, including senior officials, but such cowardly attacks can’t weaken our morale.” Bugti said while talking to the media at the bombsite.
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“We are in a state of war where such attacks can’t be ruled out, though our preventive measures and intelligence-based operations (IBOs) have foiled many such attacks.”
Security officials and explosive experts collected forensic evidence from the scene while the Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory’s help has been sought for further investigation.
The deadly bomb attack came a day after a senior police official of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, AIG Ashraf Noor, was martyred in a suicide attack on his vehicle in the upscale Hayatabad neighbourhood of Peshawar.
Earlier this month, a senior police official of Balochistan and two of his colleagues were martyred when a suicide bomber struck his convoy in Quetta.
Policeman gunned down in Quetta shortly after blast
The bomber hit the convoy of DIG Hamid Shakeel Sabir during his morning commute at the city’s Chaman Housing Scheme, killing him, his driver and an assistant sub-inspector.
Balochistan has been plagued by a low-key Baloch insurgency since 2004 which became bloodier after the killing of Baloch chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti in a security operation in 2006.
The volatile province has also been in the throes of ethnic, sectarian and militant violence which the government officials say is being stoked and bankrolled by the “hostile agencies” – a reference to the spy agencies of India and Afghanistan.