Police have confirmed Wednesday’s deadly blast at Quetta’s Serena hotel was set off by a suicide bomber as death toll rose to five after one of the 12 injured people succumbed to the injuries during the course of treatment.
An outlawed terrorist group purportedly claimed credit for the grisly suicide attack, which broke a relatively long lull in terrorist violence in Pakistan.
China’s diplomatic mission, meanwhile, confirmed Ambassador Nong Rong was leading a delegation on a Quetta visit on the day the bombing took place. However, he clarified that no Chinese national was among the casualties.
The bomber detonated a car rigged with explosives in the parking lot of the four-star luxury hotel. An official of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) said forensic evidence collected from the bombsite has confirmed it was a suicide attack.
“The car was rigged with 80-90 kilos of C-4 explosives,” an explosives expert told The Express Tribune. “Ball bearings were also used in the device in an attempt to cause maximum casualties,” he added. “Body parts of the bomber were found, which were subsequently shifted to the Civil Hospital for identification.”
Police said the bomber’s body was charred beyond recognition. Medics at the Civil Hospital, where most of the injured were shifted, said two of them have life threatening wounds.
Video footage retrieved from the closed circuit cameras installed in the hotel shows how the bomber drove the explosives-laden car into the parking area conveniently evading the security. The driver did not get down – and a few minutes later the explosion went off.
The CTD police have registered an FIR against unidentified terrorists on the complaint of the SHO Civil Lines police station. Sections 324, 302, 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code, Explosives Act and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act have been invoked.
"A joint investigation team comprising senior police officers and personnel from other agencies has been formed to probe the bombing,” a senior police officer said.
He added that the fatalities included an official of the Counter-Terrorists Force Shujaat Abbasi and two guards of a private security company deployed at the hotel.
The car used by the bomber has been identified through the CCTV footage, sources said, adding that National Database and Registration Authority’s assistance was being sought to trace the culprits.
The victims of the deadly bombing have been identified as Amil Kasi, Shahzeb Shahid, Abbasi, Asadullah Khan Khroti and Nasibullah Noorzai. All of them were laid to rest at different graveyards of the provincial capital on Thursday.
Meanwhile, China strongly condemned the terrorist attack and expressed “condolences to the unfortunate victims, and sympathy to the injured”.
“Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr Nong Rong, was leading a delegation on a visit in Quetta on the same day. When the attack occurred, the Chinese delegation was not in the hotel,” China’s Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.
“Till present, no reports of casualties of Chinese citizens in the attack have been received,” it added.