Terror in Sibi: Passenger train bombed; 17 dead

Published: April 9, 2014
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Security officials gather beside the wreckage of the train after an attack at the Sibi railway station. PHOTO: AFP

Security officials gather beside the wreckage of the train after an attack at the Sibi railway station. PHOTO: AFP

QUETTA: 

At least 17 people — including a woman and five children — were killed and nearly four dozen wounded when a passenger train was bombed at Sibi railway station on Tuesday.

The banned United Baloch Army (UBA) claimed responsibility for the attack on Jaffar Express which was en route from Quetta to Rawalpindi. It came a day after paramilitary Frontier Corps killed ’40 Baloch militants’ in a crackdown in Kalat division.

Ten minutes after Jaffar Express chugged into the Sibi railway station at 1:35pm, a huge explosion tore through wagon No. 9 of the train, according to the police. The blast ignited a fireball which quickly swept through three carriages.

Medics and government officials confirmed that at least 17 passengers were killed and 44 others wounded – some of them critically. Twelve of the bodies, which are charred beyond recognition, have been shifted to Quetta for identification through DNA tests.

“The passengers, some of whom were on fire, screamed and struggled to escape,” senior police official Muhammad Nazar, who was at the scene, told AFP. “Most of the dead have been burnt to charcoal,” he added. The train had just pulled to a stop and passengers were disembarking when the bomb went off.

DIG Qazi Hussain said the fire was caused by gas cylinders in the passengers’ luggage that exploded after the blast. “Three wagons were completely destroyed. Everything inside was reduced to ashes,” he told The Express Tribune. “The explosive device used in the attack weighed around 20 kilogrammes.

It took the firefighters 40 minutes to douse the scorching inferno. But by the time the fire was extinguished, the wagons were already gutted.

Rescuers and security forces ferried the casualties to the Civil Hospital Sibi, where a state of emergency was declared. Some of the injured were also shifted to the military hospital in the district – while those with critical wounds were flown in military helicopters to Quetta. Railways staff and police disconnected the gutted wagons and the train left for its destination after the rescue operation was completed.

Ghulam Sarwar, the medical superintendent of the Civil Hospital Sibi, told The Express Tribune that the medical facility doesn’t have a mortuary which is why the charred bodies were shifted to Quetta.  The United Baloch Army claimed credit for the grisly violence. “Today’s attack was a revenge against the military operation,” UBA spokesman Mureed Baloch said referring to the Kalat crackdown. “We warn the people not to travel in trains as we will continue attacks in the future,” he added.

According to Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, preliminary investigation suggests that the bomb was planted by a woman. “The train was standing at Sibi railway station where FC and other law enforcement agencies are always alert. We will have to review the security and find out the cracks from where the terrorists slipped in and planted the explosives,” he added.

Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch immediately ordered an inquiry. “An investigation team, comprising officials from Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps and police, has been formed,” an official of the Balochistan government said.

Home Secretary Asad Gillani has said the Sibi bombing case will be registered under the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance – a law which has stirred a controversy in political circles and among rights campaigners. If registered, this will be the fourth case registered under the PPO in Balochistan.

It was a second attack on passenger trains within four days. On March 31, Akbar Bugti Express was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades in Bolan which left two people dead.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Chachoo
    Apr 9, 2014 - 3:04AM

    Somebody should remind UBA that there are more Balochs living in Punjab than in the whole of Balochistan. By targeting Punjabis you will only create the problems for the Baloch settlers in Punjab. But i am sure that there is a Difference in a Baloch and a Punjabi and Punjabis will not go out and will kill any Baloch just like Baloch did in the past and are still doing the same with the Punjabi settlers of Balochistan.

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  • Peace
    Apr 9, 2014 - 3:38AM

    There can be no peace in South Asia until and unless the Balochistan problem is solved according to the wishes of the Baloch people. Self-determination is the only way to go.

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  • Sid
    Apr 9, 2014 - 5:12AM

    This has to stop.

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  • Ajeet
    Apr 9, 2014 - 7:23AM

    Pakistani should try to resolve all issues using peaceful means and try to solve the root cause of this issue, which is the demand for self determination by the oppressed people of Baluchistan.After all, doesn’t Pakistan want India to handle Kashmiri extremists peacefully?

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  • hmm
    Apr 9, 2014 - 7:40AM

    Crush these foreign funded groups.

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  • goldconsumer
    Apr 9, 2014 - 10:04AM

    @Chachoo:
    This is not the Baloch going out and killing Punjabis. Its a group of individuals with a totally different agenda, well funded by outsiders who are miisleading the common people of Balochistan. I have repeatedly asked this question from many bloggers (who will now start ranting about Baloch rigjhts) but never got a satisfactory answer.

    Akber Bugti was the governor of Balochistan in 1963 when gas was discovered. Why did he signed an aggrement to pump gas to Punjab in the first place? Why industrial zones were not set up in Gawadar and other places while pipelines were laid to Punjab? If i am not wrong, initial conflict in 1971 with Mr. ZA Bhutto was based on “gas rates”. If you really want progress and prosperity in a region you go for Industrialization and invite investors to come and settle. This is how the whole Gulf region has flourished. This is how Punjab and Sindh have flourished. The whole concept of immigration in west is based on attracting skilled manpower.

    You educate your people, build their skills and integrate them in society. But all these sardars have ever done is “sell” their “motherland’s resources and always kept on complaining about rates. The people of Balochistan live in the cluthes of these Sardars. Its the worst form of human slavery

    Please correct me someone if I am wrong.

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  • Apr 9, 2014 - 10:09AM

    SINCERE confidence building measures will InshAllah settle the problem…….BUT patience consistency are the catchwords. Salams

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  • hmm
    Apr 9, 2014 - 10:44AM

    @goldconsumer:
    spot on. The tribal leaders have been enjoying gas royalties for decades while they’ve oppressed their own people. They oppress them & then play the card of ethnicity to blackmail the federal Govt. Akbar Bugti was an Oxford graduate while Baluchis were deprived of basic education, this is the irony.

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  • ajeet
    Apr 9, 2014 - 11:30AM

    @hmm:
    Isn’t that true for the rest of Pakistan too?Recommend

  • Hari Om
    Apr 9, 2014 - 11:43AM

    Excesses committed by Punjab dominated security forces targeting Baloch origin people such as enforced disappearances, extra judicial executions, torture, custodial rape, sponsoring death squad militia’s and the like will inevitably be resisted by the freedom yearning people of Balochistan. The 700,000 Punjabi dominated occupation forces will not succeed in dousing the fire of liberation in Balochistan as indeed was the case with the erstwhile East Pakistan which forms todays Bangladesh.

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  • poleturtle
    Apr 9, 2014 - 1:12PM

    Let the Government talk to these murderers also !

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  • Candid1
    Apr 9, 2014 - 3:49PM

    @Ajeet:
    There is no comparison between Kashmir, and Baluchistan. Kashmir is under Indian military occupation, with outstanding UN Security Council resolutions which India refuses to implement, while the people of Kashmir consider themselves Pakistanis. Baluchistan is not under any military occupation as Baluchis are Pakistanis who exercised their right of self determination in 1947. There are no UN resolutions concerning national sovereignty over Baluchistan, there is no inter-state dispute over Baluchistan, and there is no movement in Baluchistan to make it part of any other country. The only people who are rebelling in Baluchistan are a few feudal leaders who are seeing their power eroding as development and progress is coming to the province. They want to continue the enslavement of the tribes, under the guise of “freedom,” with Indian encouragement.

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  • Apr 9, 2014 - 7:37PM

    @Peace:
    why don’t you people does the same to your Nexalites and Nagas and North East in your ‘red corridor’ It’s easy to say what you don’t do hypocrite.

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  • Apr 9, 2014 - 7:39PM

    @Ajeet:
    Kashmir is disputed land Balochistan is not. Second Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of partition and Balochistan is not.the root cause is Indian sponsoring to some localterrorist by some handlers sitting in Geneva and London.

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  • Apr 9, 2014 - 7:41PM

    @Hari Om:
    How sweet of your concern for Baloch people, why don’t you say same about your own oppressed from Nexalites to Khalistan and Nagaland to Kashmir and Vidharba to Gorkhaland and Gorkhaland to Tamilnadu.You are living in a house of glass so be careful

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  • MJ
    Apr 9, 2014 - 11:50PM

    @Ajeet. Junagarh .. Muslim rule, Hindu majority .. result: Indian invasion then, elections.

    ………….Hyderabad .. Muslim rule, Hindu majority .. result: Invasion then elections (& a genocide of 50,000 plus Muslims in 48)

    ………….Kashmir ….. Hindu rule, Muslim majority .. result ??

    While you are talking about self determination, when are residents of Assam, Nagaland, Bodoland, Khalistan & Tripura (Mizoram) going to be given the same right?

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  • Nadeem
    Apr 10, 2014 - 9:41PM

    @Candid1:
    People of Kashmir want independence from India however if you ask most they would think second from joining Pakistan. I’m a Kashmiri from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, as far as I know most consider Kashmir not part of Pakistan or India like in Pakistan sindh and Punjab are considered integral parts of Pakistan.

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