At least three people were killed and 19 others injured when a group of armed men opened fire and lobbed rockets on a passenger train near Mach Town, some 60 kilometers southeast of Quetta on Sunday.
Qaim Ali, the assistant commissioner of Mach, told reporters that the Peshawar-bound Quetta Express had just crossed Irak Station in Kachhi district, popularly known as Bolan, when it came under heavy attack.
Armed men who had taken up positions at a nearby mountain top to ambush the passing train first launched three to four rockets and then opened indiscriminate sub-machinegun fire. Personnel of Frontier Corps, Police and Balochistan Levies returned fire and chased the attackers who fled the scene, official sources said.
A spokesman from the banned outfit Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) later telephoned newspaper offices to blatantly claim responsibility for the attack.
The deceased and injured were taken to Provincial Sandeman Hospital Quetta where the three deceased were identified as Maqbol Ahmed, resident of Vehari, Mujeeb Ahmed, resident of Bahawalpur and Rahim Bakhsh, resident of Nasirabad. According to hospital sources, all victims received bullet wounds while four of the injured are in critical condition.
“I heard two explosions followed by intense firing and remained under my seat. It’s a good thing the driver did not stop the train till reaching Mach station,” one of the injured Mushtaq told The Express Tribune.
Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, the chief minister of Balochistan has strongly condemned the incident and said the “Assailants don’t deserve to be called Muslims as they did not spare innocent people during the holy month of Ramazan. This is terrorism and culprits will be dealt with iron hands.”
According to security officials the train stayed at Mach station for three hours after the incident before resuming its journey to Peshawar.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.