Security forces claimed to have foiled a suicide attack bid in Quetta by shooting down five would-be bombers near a Frontier Corps (FC) checkpost on a main highway.
Three women were among the attackers who were gunned down on Tuesday by officials from the FC and Quetta police in Kharotabad, on the outskirts of Quetta, on the National Highway, which connects Quetta to Afghanistan. The alleged bombers were shot in the head, chest and abdomen and an FC man was also killed in a grenade attack by the would-be bombers.
Balochistan Home Secretary Zafar Baloch said that the attackers were Chechen nationals and carried Russian passports. “I cannot confirm whether the suspects wore suicide vests until the police produce an investigation report. But two suspects were wearing suicide vests and hurled grenades at the security personnel.”
However, eyewitnesses claim no suicide jacket or explosive-laden vests were recovered from the bodies.
Witnesses said that three women and two men had come in a van and the men stopped to offer prayers at a nearby mosque. They were approaching the checkpost and hurled two hand-grenades.
“They were carrying hand-grenades and hurled two at security personnel before entering the post,” said Abdul Nafey, who was present at the time of attack.
The injured FC man has been identified as Lance Naik Mohammad Sajjad and was taken to the Combined Military Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
The checkpost was covered with barbed wires and bodies of the alleged bombers lay inside the checkpost for almost three hours. “They were carrying more hand-grenades and would have blown themselves up if we had gone closer to them,” an FC official said.
Police also recovered two kilogrammes of explosives and 56 detonators from the van in which the bombers had entered Quetta. “Police searched the car and recovered explosives and detonators,” said Naveed Atif, Superintendent of the Sadar Police Station.
“They were in a van and heading towards Quetta city. When they were intercepted at Airport Road checkpost, the women showed their suicide vests to police officials and threatened to blow themselves up if any attempt was made to prevent them from fleeing,” Quetta police chief Dawood Junejo said. “Police chased the attackers and managed to capture them near Kharotabad area and gunned them down with assistance from the FC.”
FC official Faisal Shehzad told reporters that they had some intelligence reports about the presence of suicide bombers and acted on a tip-off.
Bodies were taken to Bolan Medical Complex for a medical examination where two Chechen nationals were identified as Amid and Hamid.
The officials, however, did not answer how attackers had entered Quetta. “We are investigating the incident,” said a FC official. “They had intended to carry out attacks in Quetta and elsewhere in the country.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2011.