QUETTA, June 18: At least four people, including three students of the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), were killed and 72 others injured in a suicide car bomb blast that ripped through a university bus in Jinnah Town on Monday.
Among the injured were 28 students of the university, five of them women, four police officials and five children. They were admitted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), where doctors said the condition of at least 10 of them was critical.
A spokesman for the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Police said the explosion took place when two out of three university-bound buses entered Jinnah Town. Most of the dead and injured were travelling in one bus.
Two students died on the spot and another in hospital.
Some reports said the attack had claimed five lives.
“Two of the students killed in the blast belonged to Afghanistan and they were studying at the BUITEMS on scholarship,” sources said.
Several passers-by, including children, were also injured in the attack.
The suicide bomber parked an explosives-laden Mini-Pajero near the entrance to Jinnah Town and detonated it when the buses were crossing the place.
The powerful blast resounded across the city and damaged adjoining buildings, including two private schools and the home of a provincial minister.
“Injured students and passers-by were crying for help, “a witness, Zulfiqar, said.
After the blast, emergency was declared in all hospitals and doctors and paramedics were called in, but later all the injured were taken to the CMH because of lack of adequate facilities and shortage of medicines in the Sandeman Civil Hospital.
Mangled pieces of the vehicle used by the bomber flew over a 500-metre area in Jinnah Town and on Samungli Road. Pieces of the explosives-laden vehicle and the university bus also fell on nearby buildings, including houses.
“Limbs of the bomber were found on rooftops of nearby houses,” police official Sardar Tariq said.
The explosion set off panic and parents rushed to schools to pick up their children.
Students and government employees were going to their educational institutions and offices when the attack took place.
The injured included occupants of huts located near the place, motorcyclists and rickshaw drivers.
A niece of Balochistan Excise and Taxation Minister Mir Mohammad Ameen Umrani and his two security guards were injured and his home was badly damaged. “My niece was sitting inside my house and the two guards were at the gate when the bomb exploded,” the minister said.
City police chief Mir Zubair told Dawn that the bus that had been attacked was coming from Marriabad area of Hazara community.
A police vehicle escorting the university buses was also hit and four policemen were injured, he added.
An official of the bomb disposal squad said about 50kg of explosives was used in the attack and the affected bus was about 40 metres away when they were detonated. Students in the other bus remained safe.
The dead were identified as Irfan, Aqil Raza, Shahid and Abdul Hadi.
The city was rocked by another explosion late in the night when a bomb placed on a bicycle parked near a petrol station on the Sariab Road injured four passers-by. They were taken to the CMH.
Mohammad Farooq was shot dead on Adalat Road, near Quetta Press Club, by men on a motorcycle when he was going home after closing his cloth shop.