QUETTA: Two people were killed and 15 others wounded, including several wedding party guests, when a bomb exploded in a rickshaw in Quetta on Monday, police said.
“It was an improvised explosive device which went off in a rickshaw close to the regional office of the National Highway Authority (NHA),” police officer Shabbir Sheikh said, adding that the rickshaw was heading to the airport. The Shia Ulema Council claimed that Allama Najfi was the target, who was travelling in his car on the Airport Road when the blast occurred.
However, he remained safe. Police said two people – the rickshaw driver and a passenger – were killed while around 15 people travelling in a passenger van were wounded. The injured included women and children who were going to a wedding party. “It is possible the passenger in the rickshaw, who died in the blast, was carrying the bomb which exploded prematurely,” police said. Muhammad Noor, a medical officer at Quetta’s Civil Hospital, confirmed the casualties.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Police and paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel reached the site soon after the blast as investigators sifted through rubbles to find forensic evidence. The Bomb Disposal Squad said around 15 kilos of explosives were used in the blast. In a statement, the spokesperson for the Balochistan Shia Ullema Council said the target of the blast was prominent Shia scholar Allama Ghulam Mehdi Najafi, who was passing by the site at the time of the blast. “Najfi dropped another Shia scholar Allama Sajid Naqvi at the Quetta Airport and was returning home,” he added.
SP Saddar, Dr Furrukh confirmed that the vehicle of Shia scholar was passing the area when the explosion took place. Earlier in the day, an explosive device along with a detonator was found at the Excise and Taxation Office in Quetta on Monday. The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) defused the bomb immediately. DIG Hamid Shakil said that suspected miscreants had left the explosive device wrapped in a packet near the washroom of the office. It weighed half a kilo, he added. In other violence, three people were killed over old enmity in Jaffarabad district on Monday.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 25th, 2010.
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