At least five students from the ethnic Hazara community were killed and over 70 others, including policemen and children, wounded in a bomb attack on a university bus in Quetta city on Monday.
“The remote-controlled bomb was planted in a jeep parked along a roadside in the Samungali Road neighbourhood of the city. The bomb was detonated when a bus carrying students of Balochistan Information Technology University drove past,” Mir Zubair, the capital city police officer (CCPO), told journalists.
The bus was carrying 75 students – five of them died on the spot and the rest sustained injuries, according to the CCPO.
The casualties were shifted to the Sandeman Hospital, CMH and Bolan Medical College Hospital where a state of emergency was declared.
Sources said that all the students on board the bus belonged to the ethnic Hazara community, who are Shias by sect. They added that a police van was escorting the bus when it was targeted. “Apparently, it was a sectarian attack,” a source told The Express Tribune. The Hazara community has repeatedly been targeted in Balochistan over the past few years.
Medics confirmed that more than 70 students were treated at the hospitals – seven of them are said to be in critical condition. Some passers-by, including women and children, also sustained shrapnel wounds. The house of provincial minister for excise and taxation and three private schools were also damaged in the blast.
According to the Bomb Disposal Squad, 45 to 50 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but similar attacks on the Hazara community in the past were blamed on the banned sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, and political parties Phaktoonkwa Milli Awami Party, Jamaat-e-Islami, National Party, Hazara Democratic Party and Hazara Students Organisation denounced the blast.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.