QUETTA: Balochistan Police on Wednesday claimed to have arrested eleven children aged between 11 to 16 years, who were allegedly involved in carrying out the Bacha Khan blast in Quetta, Express News reported.
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Quetta Zubair Mehmood at a press conference in Quetta on Wednesday claimed that the detained children had admitted their role in the bomb blast that shook Bacha Khan chowk in Quetta in January. The convicts apparently worked for the little known United Baloch Army (UBA).
The blast at Bacha Khan square in January had killed 12 people and injured many others. Sixteen year-old Sabir, among those detained, was particularly used in that blast.
Mehmood said that the children had admitted to receiving Rs3,000 for each of the attacks they carried out. The CCPO said that terrorist organisations exploited the poverty of these children.
The CCPO further said that these children were arrested after an exchange of fire between police and militants on Tuesday night. He added that at least eight handlers managed to escape. Police also claimed to have recovered seven rockets, anti-personnel mines, chemicals, safety fuse wires, 10kg of explosive material, and explosive rods.
UBA had lured the children, who came from poor families, to leave packages containing home-made bombs in markets, dustbins and on routes used by police and security forces, Mehmood said.
Mehmood said the militants chose the youngsters knowing that police would not suspect small children or garbage collectors.
"Some of the children said they did not know what the packets contained and what they are doing," he said.
"They said they were happy they would get a small amount of money for dropping the packets."
Some of the boys, aged between 10 and 17, have confessed to involvement in about a dozen blasts in the city including the Bacha Khan blast where a bomb exploded near a vehicle of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), he said.
The January 10 bomb blast killed two FC soldiers and nine civilians near the Bacha Khan chowk.
Baluchistan has been hit by an insurgency in recent years by Baluch nationalists demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the province's wealth of natural oil, gas and mineral resources.
The province has also been the focus of rising sectarian violence and Quetta has been hit by two huge bombings this year targeting minority Shiite Muslims that have killed nearly 200 people.