QUETTA: Police on Saturday conducted raids in different parts of Quetta where 62 people were killed and 185 injured in a suicide attack on an Al-Quds day procession a day earlier.
The police have arrested 12 suspects so far in the case, while an FIR of the accused in the blast case has also been registered at the City Police Station.
Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has formed a judicial tribunal to investigate the attack. He has also formed a ministerial commission to review law and order.
Meanwhile, a complete shutter-down strike is being observed in the city. The call for the strike was announced by the Shia Conference.
Traders Union and political parties in the city are fully participating in the strike. All markets, educational institutions and other businesses are closed across the city.
Heavy contingents of police and FC have been deployed around Quetta to avoid any untoward incident.
Updated from print edition (below)
62 killed in suicide attack on rally
At least 62 people were killed and over 150 injured in a suicide attack on an Al Quds rally, followed by indiscriminate firing. Soon after the bomber blew himself up, heavily armed men opened fire as a result of which dozens received bullet injuries.
Banned religious outfit Lashkar-i-Janghvi claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of more attacks if a ban was not imposed on processions and demonstrations of Shia organisations. Later the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also claimed responsibility for the same attack. The incident of the blast and firing took place as the procession, led by the Imamia Students Organisation to mark Al Quds Day – an annual event opposing Israel’s control of Jerusalem, reached Mezan Chowk. Hundreds of people took part in the rally that the police tried to stop near Mali Bagh on McChangey Road owing to security concerns. The younger participants however pushed their way further by removing police barricades and it was when the procession reached Mezan Chowk that the suicide bomber detonated the explosives.
“Around 20 people caught fire as a result of the blast while human flesh spread all over the ground,” TV cameraman Shahid Mukhtar who suffered multiple injuries to The Express Tribune. “I don’t know what happened, everything was covered with thick smoke,” he said. The driver of Express News’ DSNG van said that a group of armed men opened indiscriminate fire soon after the blast and tried to set the DSNG van on fire. “No security official was present to tackle the situation,” he said while another eyewitness, Saqib, said that 15 people suffered bullet injuries.
Enraged participants of the rally burnt several vehicles, motorcycles and shops in Mezan Chowk and adjoining areas where the police and Frontier Crops reached after a delay of an hour. There was also an exchange of fire between the armed men and security personnel during which two passersby received injuries. Fund collecting camps set up by different organisations for flood victims were also burnt down.
According to an eyewitness, around 20 people died after receiving bullet injuries. “We received 10 bodies and 28 injured while a large number of injured have been referred to the CMH,” Medico Legal Officer at the Sandeman Hospital said. Up to 60 bodies and 159 injured were rushed to the CMH while four bodies were sent to the BMC.
Talking to journalists, Provincial Police Officer, Malik Mohammad Iqbal said that the police had tried to stop the rally due to a security concern but the participants refused to follow instructions. He said the police had also issued a warning about a suspected attack. The suicide bomber is believed to be between 25 and 30 years old, as guessed by his head that was found after the attack.
Mohammad Sarwar, a driver working for AAJ TV is also among the dead while seven others belonging to the media suffered injuries. Express News reporter Irshad Mastoi, Express News cameraman Shahid Muktiar, Samaa TV’s Noor Elahi Bugti and Ejaz Raisani, ARY TV’s Mustafa Tareen, Geo TV’s Imran Muktiar and Dawn News’ Fateh Shakir were also among those hurt.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2010.