At least 26 people were killed and over 60 injured in two suicide attacks targeting the residence of the deputy chief of the paramilitary force responsible for the recent capture of three senior al Qaeda operatives in Quetta.
The attacks targeted and wounded Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of Frontier Corps Brigadier Farrukh Shehzad whose force was involved in the arrest of Younis al Mauritani and two other al Qaeda operatives in Quetta in an operation announced on Monday.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – the outlawed group blamed for most violence in the country – claimed responsibility for the twin attacks.
“Our fidayeen (suicide bombers) have carried out this attack. It is revenge for the arrests of our brothers in Quetta,” Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location. “If they make more arrests then the reaction will be much more forceful,” he warned.
The bombings took place in the high security zone on Anscamb Road where offices of Quetta’s commissioner and deputy commissioner, directorate of public relation (DPR), anti-terrorism courts and the house of inspector-general police are located. The chief minister secretariat and Balochistan governor house are about 400 metres away from the site.
One of the bombers blew himself up in a vehicle packed with explosives near the car of Brig. Shehzad. At least four FC troops were killed and dozens injured in the explosion and an ensuing fire engulfed security vehicles and motorcycles parked outside the residence, where paramilitary forces had been waiting to escort Brig. Shehzad.
(Read: In the name of revenge?)
The blast was followed by intense firing, offering a cover to a second bomber to get inside the main building of Brig. Shehzad’s residence.
The bomber shot dead the guards at the main entrance and then detonated the explosives strapped to his body near the guest room where Brig. Shehzad, his family and some colleagues were present. Brig Shehzad’s wife, FC Colonel Khalid and two more people were killed, while several more people were wounded in the attack including FC spokesperson Murtaza Baig.
A woman, her three children and at least 11 troops from the Frontier Corps and Balochistan Constabulary were among the dead, police officer Hamid Shakil said.
A senior official of the Bomb Disposal Squad said around 100 kilograms of explosives were used in the attacks that brought down the walls of Brig. Shehzad’s house and nearby offices.
Windowpanes and glass panels of scores of buildings were smashed by the explosions which were heard within a radius of four kilometres.
“I was inside the anti-terrorism court and rushed after the first explosion. There was intense firing and the area was enveloped in thick black smoke. After 10 minutes there was another huge explosion,” said BDS official Basher Zaki.
The head of one of the suicide bombers had been found, and the features indicated he may have been from Afghanistan’s Tajik ethnic group, a senior security official told Reuters.
Shakil added that an identity card was also found inside Shehzad’s house which probably belongs to one of the bombers. The card identified the bomber as Ahmed Gul, son of Sayed Gul, resident of Peshawar.
“The 19-year-old boy belonged to Kundoz province of Afghanistan and he might have obtained the identity card from Peshawar,” a senior investigator told The Express Tribune. Ball bearings and two hand grenades were also recovered from the site.
Before the attacks, security forces were informed about the movement of a suspicious car which was perhaps rekeying the area, an official said, adding that the car disappeared after the explosions. (With additional input from Wires)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.