ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR: The United Baloch Army (UBA) claimed responsibility for the high-intensity remote-controlled blast in Sabzi Mandi on Wednesday, Express News reported.
The blast that took place in the early hours of Wednesday in the busy market left at least 22 people dead and dozens injured.
Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) officials said nine of the injured were in critical condition. Many wounded were also taken to the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi and emergency was declared in both the hospitals of twin cities.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the explosion, with interior minister ordering a report on the explosion.
Speaking to the media later in the day, the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said that the use of technology was imperative for the prevention of such incidents in the future, adding that a transparent system needs to be set up to monitor the transport of goods and produce in the area.
He criticised the previous government, informing that two of the four explosive material scanners that were purchased by the previous government at a cost of Rs10 million never arrived, while the ones that were delivered did not serve the purpose.
He assured that the government will find the terrorists behind the incident and bring them to justice. He added that people who were injured in the incident and who lost their loved ones will be compensated by the government.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid also issued a condemnation and said it was ‘haram‘ and illegal to attack innocent people in public places.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid visited PIMS to meet the injured and appreciated the hospital’s rescue efforts in the aftermath. He said injured were swiftly shifted to the hospital within minutes.
The minister also lauded the citizens of Rawalpindi for extending help to the injured. Rashid refused to comment on who could be behind the attack, saying speculations can negatively affect the ongoing investigations.
According to Inspector General (IG) Islamabad, four to five kilogrammes of explosive material were used in the blast. The explosives were reportedly planted in a crate of fruit.
“It was a bomb blast, heard over a big radius,” local police official Tehzeeb Hussain told AFP.
The blast left a 1.5-metre diameter crater at the site, an AFP reporter at the scene said. Senior local administration official Nauman Yousuf told AFP “it was a planted bomb”.
Express News screengrab of the site of the blast.
According to rescue sources, 13 vehicles were damaged in the explosion.
Security officials and the police cordoned off the area and the Bomb Disposal Squad combed the area for other explosive devices.
Search operations were conducted in Rawalpindi following the blast. Security was increased at the entry and exit points of the garrison city, where police have arrested 16 suspects so far.
Family members can contact Pims representatives on 0519261225 – 0519261262.