QUETTA: At least seven people, including five Balochistan Constabulary personnel, have been martyred, after a suicide bomber struck a security forces truck in Quetta, according to hospital and security officials.
The attack, claimed by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on Tuesday, took place on GPO Chowk, a busy street in a high-security zone some 300 metres from the Balochistan Assembly.
The blast targeted the police truck where the security personnel were standing after performing their duties at the assembly building. “A suicide bomber was believed to have walked up to the truck and blown himself up,” a senior police officer said.
Five security personnel died on the spot as a result of the explosion while 16 others, including eight security personnel, sustained injuries.
The attack took place hours after Sanaullah Zehri resigned as chief minister of Balochistan, although there was no indication that the blast was connected to provincial politics.
“Due to the assembly session, the vicinity of Balochistan Assembly building was completely cordoned off and heavy contingents of security personnel were deployed,” Inspector General Police Mozzam Jah Ansari told media after visiting the blast site.
“The attack occurred after the assembly proceedings ended,” he added.
The blast has drawn widespread condemnation and reactions from across the country:
Rescue workers and law-enforcement agencies rushed to the spot and shifted the bodies and injured to Civil Hospital Quetta. The hospital was completely cordoned off by the Frontier Corps and police soon after the suicide attack.
More than 900 police and Balochistan Constabulary personnel were deployed inside and outside the Zarghoon Road to protect the Balochistan Assembly session.
Refuting speculation that the suicide bomber wanted to target the assembly session where a no-confidence motion against the chief minister was to be discussed, the IG Police said, “The actual point of the blast is exactly on the opposite direction of the assembly.”
“The attack happened after almost an hour after the assembly proceedings were completed that indicates the suicide bomber wanted to target security personnel guarding the people of Balochistan.”
Former home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti strongly condemned the atrocity and tweeted, “The latest terror attack in by terrorists is an attempt to portray negatively amidst Chief Minister’s resignation. Fight against terrorism will continue despite the change of government in the province.”
Bashir Ahmed, a witness of the blast said, we were stuck in traffic blockade after all roads leading towards Assembly were completely shut, “Soon after traffic resumed we heard a powerful explosion and my three friends sitting with in a car received injuries.”
Medical Superintendent (MS) Civil Hospital Shahjahan Panezai said, at least 16 injured have been shifted to Trauma Center while emergency had been declared in the hospital minutes after the blast.
Many MPAs were present inside the Assembly when the blast occurred.