Two paramilitary troops and two passersby were killed and 34 people, including women and children, were injured in a bomb explosion at a busy roundabout in the provincial capital on Monday.
“An explosive laden car parked on Airport Road at Almo Chowk was detonated by terrorists when two vehicles of the paramilitary Frontier Corps drove past,” Malik Arshad, the superintendent of police, Airport Road Circle, told The Express Tribune.
A man identifying himself as a member of the banned Baloch Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to a private television channel.
“The target was the FAC convoy. Most of the injured are passersby, including five women and three children,” he added.
According to the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), around 40 kilogrammes of high explosives were used in the blast which destroyed eight vehicles. At least 10 vehicles, 18 shops and two banks were also damaged in the blast.
Windowpanes of dozens of houses, offices and auto showrooms were smashed due to the impact of the blast which was heard within a radius of six kilometres.
Almo Chowk is a busy roundabout where a huge market, scores of auto showrooms, government offices and restaurants are located.
The explosion ignited a fire on at least eight vehicles and the people travelling in received shrapnel wounds. The two FC vehicles targeted were destroyed.
A heavy contingent of security forces threw a security cordon around the blast site as rescuers shifted the casualties to the Sandeman Hospital, Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and FC Headquarters Hospital. A state of emergency was declared at the Sandeman hospital.
According to witnesses, the car used in the blast was parked along a footpath. “I was driving my pickup right behind the FC convoy. As soon as they neared Almo Chowk, a powerful blast went off,” one of the men wounded in the blast told The Express Tribune from his hospital bed.
The FC spokesperson confirmed that two paramilitary soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in the blast. He identified the dead troopers as Waseem Abbas and Aziz.
Medics at the Sandeman Hospital said that they have received one fatality and 32 injured people.
“Five women and three children are among the injured. Two of the women with life-threatening wounds were referred to the CMH,” a doctor told The Express Tribune. “However, one of them expired on her way to the hospital.”
It was a second deadly attack on the paramilitary force in as many months. Last month an FC convoy was targeted on Saryab Road in which two passersby were killed and dozens others injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2012.