At least four people, including a policeman and a woman and her son, died while more than two dozen others sustained injuries in a powerful blast in Quetta’s Baleli area on Wednesday that targeted a police patrol, senior police officials said.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Quetta, Azfar Mehesar said that a police truck, carrying policemen, was hit in the attack. He gave the death toll from the explosion at four. Mehesar added that one policeman died inside the police truck, while a woman and her son died in another vehicle, while on way to Quetta.
A senior security official said on the condition of anonymity that initial police investigation suggested it was a suicide attack. The suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the police truck. There was a huge blast in which the police truck was destroyed, the official said.
The blast was heard far and wide and caused panic in the area. Police and rescue workers were quick to reach the spot. The injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital Quetta and the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), where an emergency was declared to provide prompt medical treatment to the injured.
Wasim Baig, spokesperson for the Balochistan Health Department, told AFP that a policeman, a civilian woman, and two children had been killed in the blast. “The injured include 21 policemen and two children,” Baig added. Some of the wounded were in a critical condition, police official Abdul Haq told Reuters.
Read: TTP calls off ceasefire, orders terrorist attacks across Pakistan
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, the TTP said that its fighter detonated a car bomb near a customs post to avenge the killing of its founding member Umar Khalid Khurasani, according to AFP.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and directed for the best possible medical aid to the injured. He also paid tribute to the martyred police official. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also condemned the suicide attack.
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Quddus Bizenjo strongly condemned the blast and directed the administration to submit a report about the blast. In a statement issued after the blast, Bizenjo said the perpetrators of the blast would be brought to justice. An important meeting was also held at the Balochistan home ministry.
The attack came two days after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced the end of a ceasefire the banned outfit had agreed with the federal government in June this year. The group said on Monday it had ordered its militants to stage terrorist attacks across the country.
The government and the TTP had agreed to a truce earlier this year after Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers took a prominent role in brokering peace talks, but negotiations made little progress and there were frequent breaches.
Also on Monday, the government launched a week-long polio immunisation campaign aiming to inoculate over 13 million children. Polio vaccination teams are routinely escorted by police, and the TTP has regularly ambushed officers in remote restive areas.
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
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