QUETTA: At least three security personnel among eight people were martyred and more than 20 injured in a suicide attack near the Quetta Press Club where a religious party was holding a rally.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdul Razzak Cheema said the martyred officers include two policemen and one Levies man, who along with other security personnel were deployed for the protection of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat holding a rally on the death anniversary of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) in front of the QPC.
“A youngster on foot tried to enter the area where the rally was being held. However, the police personnel stopped him from entering, upon which, he blew himself up,” the DIG said, adding that the police saved the participants of the rally by “sacrificing their own lives”.
“Eight people lost their lives in the blast and over 20 are injured,” Cheema said, adding that the police found the head of the suicide bomber.
Cheema said that it seems that the target of the suicide bomber was the rally in front of the QPC.
Soon after the blast, security forces – including police, Frontier Corps and Balochistan Constabulary – reached the site and cordoned off the entire area while rescue workers shifted the bodies to Civil Hospital Quetta where emergency has been declared.
“We have received eight bodies and over 20 injured,” Dr Wasim Baig, spokesperson for the government-run hospital said, adding that at least nine are in critical condition.
At least six vehicles, motorcycles and rickshaws – passing through the area when the blast took place – have been damaged. Windows and doors of many nearby shops and buildings were also shattered and smashed due to the impact of the powerful blast.
The bomb disposal squad reached the blast site and collected evidence. “It was a suicide blast and around six kilos of explosive material was used in the blast,” a senior BDS official said.
The site of the explosion has been sealed by the police as a high-level investigation team from Lahore is expected to reach Quetta on Tuesday.
Seven of the eight martyrs have been identified as Abdul Rasool, M Hameed (policeman), Mohammad Zaman (Levies personnel), Muhammad Naseem, Manzoor Ahmad, Ahmadullah and Hazrat Ali.
Meanwhile, Balochistan governor, chief minister, provincial assembly speaker, home minister and chief secretary strongly condemned the suicide attack and expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives.
Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan condemned the incident and ordered the authorities concerned to submit a detailed report of the incident and take all possible steps to arrest the culprits as soon as possible.
“Enemies of peace and progress of Balochistan and Pakistan [are] attempting to destabilise the country,” the CM said.
He instructed the law enforcement agencies to take concrete security measures in the capital and rest of the province to ward off such terror attacks in the future.
He directed to provide best medical facilities to each patient. Kamal also expressed his deep sorrow and grief over the loss of lives and prayed for strength for the families to bear such a huge loss.
Governor Justice (retd) Amanullah Khan Yasinzai said, “Terrorists are attempting to sabotage the peaceful atmosphere but the nation stands united to foil their nefarious designs.”
Home Minister Ziaullah Langove also condemned the deadly incident and said nobody will be permitted to disturb the peace and order of the province. “Miscreants will be treated with an iron hand.”
Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Fazil Asghar expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives and those wounded in the blast. “Those who target innocent people deserve the strictest punishment.”
Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Matsuda Kuninori strongly condemned the bomb attack and expressed condolences to the families of the victims, according to an official statement.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the grieving families. Almighty Allah may give you strength and patience to bear this difficult time", the ambassador said.
"No act of terrorism can be justified. Japan strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and is firmly committed to continue supporting efforts by the government of Pakistan to fight against terrorism," he added.