Day of bloodshed: Killing hope and history

Published: June 16, 2013
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers take position after militants attacked a hospital in Quetta. PHOTO: AFP PHOTO: REUTERS

QUETTA: Balochistan bleeds once again. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi massacred 28 people in the long-suffering city of Quetta in what is the first major terror attack after the new government took power. And hours before this latest outrage came a blow at the country’s very heritage, this time by the BLA, who destroyed Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s new government faced its first major security challenge on Saturday when sectarian terrorists went on a bloody rampage in the capital of Balochistan.

At least 28 people — among them 14 students of the lone women’s university of the province — were killed when terrorists bombed a bus and then seized parts of a hospital treating survivors of their attack. The outlawed sectarian extremist group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), claimed credit for the grisly attacks.

The siege lasted for several hours and ended when police commandos stormed the building, freeing 35 people who had been taken hostage, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told reporters in Islamabad.

According to police, terrorists remotely detonated a bomb on the bus carrying students from Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, which is located close to a neighbourhood of the Shia Hazara community.

Officials, however, said the attack wasn’t targeted at any particular community or ethnicity, adding that students from all ethnic and communal backgrounds study in the university.

“The bomb exploded minutes after students boarded the bus around 2pm,” Mir Zubair Mehmood, the capital city police officer (CCPO), told journalists. “Twelve students were killed on the spot and 22 wounded,” he said. Another two students died at hospital, raising the death toll to 14, sources added. Interior Minister Nisar also confirmed 14 fatalities.

The injured students were rushed to the Bolan Medical College Teaching Hospital where LeJ terrorists had already seized parts of the building, taking dozens of people hostage, including government officials, relatives of the victims, doctors and paramedics.

“As casualties were being brought to the hospital terrorists had taken position inside the hospital building,” Nisar said. “They opened fire on administration and police officials who arrived at the hospital. One suicide bomber blew himself up in the hospital,” he added.

Top government officials – including provincial chief secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, IGP Mushtaq Sukhera, Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mansoor Kakar and Assistant Commissioner Anwer Ali Shar – were leaving the hospital after reviewing the situation when the suicide bomber detonated his explosive jacket near the operation theatre (OT). The blast was immediately followed by heavy firing.

“Over six armed men barged into the Emergency Ward and the people present inside started running outside in panic,” Dr Abu Bakar, who was also injured in the blast, told The Express Tribune. “The attackers were armed with AK 47 assault rifles and wore suicide vests,” he added.

Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mansoor Khan Kakar, Medico-Legal Officer of BMCTH Dr Shabbir Magsi, four FC personnel and as many nurses were killed and several others injured in the suicide blast and subsequent firing.

The casualties, including Assistant Commissioner Anwer Ali Shar, an FC captain, a senior police officer and a news channel reporter, were driven to the Civil Hospital and the Combined Military Hospital.

Policemen and FC troops surrounded the complex and engaged the terrorists in a firefight. “The terrorists fired randomly at any movement from their vantage point,” CCPO Mehmood said.  Journalists and some senior police officials ducked behind vehicles in the parking lot overlooking the Emergency Ward of the hospital.

Around 7pm police and FC commandoes were called in. They secured most parts of the building and pinned down the terrorists in a room where government officials, doctors and relatives of the victims were held hostage. Just as they were closing in on the terrorists, another suicide bomber detonated the explosives strapped to his body.

Helicopters flew overhead as commandos stormed the building. Personnel from FC, anti-terrorist police force and Balochistan Levies had virtually sealed off all entry and exit points of the building by then.

“The siege continued for about four hours and ended when three of the terrorists blew themselves up,” said FC spokesperson Abdul Wasay.  Interior Minister Nisar said that four terrorists were killed during the operation while one was captured alive. “He has been shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation,” Nisar added. It was not immediately clear if any of the terrorists managed to escape.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Maria
    Jun 16, 2013 - 8:55AM

    I think that the cowards who perpetrated this act against innocent civilians have only revealed to what extent they lack humanity. They may be trying to please their foreign masters but I think they have strengthened the resolve of the Pakistani people to defeat them. I think this incident only shows how depraved and desperate the criminals are but like in Swat, this will be a turning point in the nation’s resolve to bring the criminals to justice.

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  • Mirza
    Jun 16, 2013 - 9:10AM

    What a sad news to read again and again. It is imp we tackle these sectarian extremist terrorists before they kill us all or make us their slaves. How can we continue to have soft corner for the killers targeting women students and hospitals? I am shocked, stunned and outraged and cannot find words to condemn this cowardly act of these terrorists.

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  • A J Khan
    Jun 16, 2013 - 9:16AM

    I am dreaded by the conceptual changes in my religion. From peace to violence, from respect to humiliation, from chivalry to cowardice, from standing with the weak to targeting frail is the new concept being enforced through brutality. Yesterdays act of targeting girls and proudly claiming it, is the new religion which we will follow if not eradicated.

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Jun 16, 2013 - 9:40AM

    Seeds sown for the bloodshed right from the two nation theory, then fertilised and watered by politicans and generals alike overt the past six decades and now the tree has fully boomed ! Deep roots, vast canopy and ripe fruit for picking !

    Welcome to the nation that was secured in the name of Islam to provide protection, shelter, opportunities and prosperity for a minority !

    The minority then becomes majority and treats its minorities with such violen ce, discrimination and bloodshed that it risks dismembering .. thanks to the silent (do-nothing) and mute majority !

    Welcome to Pakistan !

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  • K B Kale
    Jun 16, 2013 - 9:50AM

    Whatever the new government-any government for that matter-attempts to do would appear to be wrong! Negotiate with the terrorists? Wrong! Counterattack them? Also wrong! I think the terrorist outfits have been allowed (encouraged?) to become strong to such an extent that now they can be controlled (probably?) only with divine intervention!
    I always wish well for Pakistan. I hope the God gives these terrorists some good advice to mend their wrong ways and blesses the Pakistani awam so that they remain safe and healthy!

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  • Umar
    Jun 16, 2013 - 9:57AM

    Time to take down the LeJ. As it is LeJ is the punjabi militant arm. We will not accept any more government excuses for inaction. The LeJ thugs in Quetta as well as Punjab must be shown no mercy!

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  • Ali
    Jun 16, 2013 - 12:21PM

    But IK did a coalition for a seat in karachi with a known leader of ASWJ against MQM. There is no will in our politicians. They just dont care. These less-than-animals terrorists must be eradicated like the scum they are. No mercy. And the public should be allowed to carry guns.

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  • Thoughtful
    Jun 16, 2013 - 12:24PM

    Lots of holes in the narrative of this heart breaking day. Points to gross incompetence. Injured students taken to hospital under siege? Are there no cellphones in Quetta? Now the news the one of the suicide bombers was a woman. Did that prevent her being frisked?

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  • Jun 16, 2013 - 12:53PM

    The hate is at its extreme when the injured are targeted at the hospital too.immediately after bombing .them. Barbaric mindset and the act.. Frustration will creep in among the Shia Hazara and the image of Pakistan across the globe will deteriorate further.( if culprits are not caught and punished).

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  • Jun 16, 2013 - 1:04PM

    @Maria: Nothing completes without a conspiracy and or foreign master.
    Result of a closed brain and eyes

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  • JD
    Jun 16, 2013 - 1:33PM

    Is BLA and LeJ working together????

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  • Enlightened
    Jun 16, 2013 - 1:34PM

    As expected, the sectarian forces have raised their ugly head after the new govt has taken control in Islamabad since they had given its support to PMLN before elections. They have now restarted their unfinished agenda of targeting Shias with more gusto as they feel that no action would be take against them. Nawaz Sharif who was given a clear mandate by the people of Pakistan must perform his national duty to protect all communities by dealing these forces with a heavy hand to stop any further disintegration of the country.

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  • sm
    Jun 16, 2013 - 1:42PM

    @Maria:

    They may be trying to please their
    foreign masters but I think they have
    strengthened the resolve of the
    Pakistani people to defeat them

    yes, keep believing that.Keep believing the ‘foreign masters” thingy until everything is ruined.

    If i get sick, i will not blame the virus. i will blame myself for not taking appropriate measure to keep my body healthy. I hope you do the same.And no, they are not playing by their foreing masters,in fact, they are the very creation of Pakistan and hateful ideology.

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  • khan
    Jun 16, 2013 - 1:46PM

    its our own fault, instead of using miltery might aginst them as we did in “swat” we just try to maintain a status quo in FATA , some parts of punjab…
    whats the purpose of allocating so much funds for army if we dont want to use them
    what i am saying that problem isnt the miltary leadership, they are quite keen but the political leadership which just want to maintain a status quo and refuses to act against militants..
    the only reason they acted against the swat miilitant was to throttle rumours of militant taking over islamabad(as buneer is about 100km from islamabad, international media started quoting this)..or otherwise they still would have been damn and sleeping

    bottom line unless islamabad is threatened these politican simlpy dont care…there hasnt been a single terrorist group that has been stopped by talks..what would PTI Say as these Laskhari-jangvi miltants dont have “the American connection”

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  • Zahoor Mengal
    Jun 16, 2013 - 2:16PM

    they are BLA people hiding behind secterianism. Targeting Hazaras by BLA kills many birds with one stone. By reflexively labeling it as secterianism media is letting murderers get away with their crime.

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  • saleem
    Jun 16, 2013 - 2:31PM

    Till the time we will not call terrorist a terrorist but by their holy names, this divided society will keep on clapping on the death of a particular community I.e shia, security forces, punjabi settlers,national monument etc knowing fully well that they all are branches of same trees and our ministers misleading that they have separate cause and finding petty justifications and sense for these heinous crimes and talking of dialogues, and tactics of delay. I think cause is very clear destruction of our beloved country and we must first name our enemy and then declare war on them and their allies sitting in political parties, security agencies, media and there foreign funded teaching nurseries because by now their jactual aim is very clear.

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  • Usman
    Jun 16, 2013 - 4:02PM

    I dont know how much time would took us to build Gwadar to Kashgir China and central Asia Motorway and Railway in reality..But by announcing that we have come in eyes of some Anti-Pakistan and Anti- China powers,,,US,west,Hindia and some regional counties have step-up proxy war in Pakistan…In Ziyarat Quaid residency attacked by bunyad prast terrorists and group leader is sitting under UK blessings…

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  • ahmad
    Jun 16, 2013 - 5:58PM

    Neither history is killed nor hope. This incidence has bonded us together. It has strengthened our resolve as a nation towards these coward and worthless killers who attacked women and that too doctors and nurses. History cannot be killed by destroying buildings and hope cannot be killed by such incidences. I strongly appeal to Express Tribune please don’t print such negative and incorrect headlines. Media must give hope not snatch it away form public. Please stand with us and not with them.

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  • Faraz
    Jun 16, 2013 - 7:26PM

    @Usman:
    Go to school

    Get a life

    Leave the darkness and come into the light

    Invest in reading stuff that helps your to sift the truth from poppycock

    invest in reading … Period

    Each of these would be an excellent place for you to be starting from. Take your pick.

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  • Jun 17, 2013 - 3:42AM

    those who have done this wild like act are not wil wishers of our nation.they have killed the cream of nation.so i condole with the parents of those martyred in this attack.i strictly appose this attack & request to government to provide security to educational institutions

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  • Jun 17, 2013 - 3:46AM

    i strictly appose about this attack

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