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Volunteers search for victims in a destroyed pilgrims bus at the site of a car bomb attack in Mastung, some 30 kilometres south of Quetta, Dec 30, 2012. — Photo by AFP

RAWALPINDI, Dec 31: Nineteen bodies of Shia pilgrims killed in Sunday’s bomb attack in Mastung, that were airlifted to Rawalpindi, are charred beyond recognition and their DNA tests will be conducted after collection of blood samples of their relatives.

“The government has decided to conduct DNA tests to identify them,” a hospital official told Dawn on Monday.

Like relatives of other victims, Mazhar Ali was waiting outside the mortuary of the District Headquarters Hospital to receive the coffin of his mother Ghufran Bibi who was among the victims.

After waiting for several hours, he was told that his mother’s body could not be identified so he had to give his blood sample for DNA matching and would have to wait for a couple of days for the report.

“I talked to my mother at 7.30am when she was on her way to Iran from Quetta, but later there was no reply from her mobile phone,” Mazhar Ali said.

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar submitted an initial report to the Punjab government on the shifting of bodies.

“All 19 boxes containing the charred bodies of the victims of the bomb attack are kept in cold storage. The coffins were inscribed with the labels ‘DNA 1’ to ‘DNA 19’ as none of the victims could be identified so far. Three coffins were stored in the District Headquarters Hospital and 16 others in the Holy Family Hospital,” the DCO said.

He said families of 11 victims had contacted the district administration to claim the bodies.

None of the injured admitted to the HFH is in a critical condition.

“The blood samples obtained from the relatives of the victims were sent to a laboratory in Islamabad. Samples taken from the bodies in Quetta had already been sent there for matching,” the DCO said.

“The bodies will be handed over to relatives after the DNA reports are received,” he said.

Mohammad Nawaz, 25, of Sargodha, who had been slightly injured in the attack, was discharged from the hospital on Monday afternoon. “The bus in which we were going to Iran had travelled about 50km from Quetta when a speeding vehicle crossed two security vehicles and rammed into it,” he said. “I don’t know what happened after that.”

At least 20 people were killed and 25 others injured when the suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the bus and 19 bodies and nine injured were brought to Rawalpindi by a military aircraft on Sunday night. The victims belonged to different areas of Punjab.

The injured brought here include Ghulam Abbas and Shafiq of Gujrat, Syed Waqas and Sajid Ali of Lala Musa, Perveen Akhtar of Taxila, Mohammad Saleem and Mohammad Nawaz of Sargodha, Tariq Ali of Sialkot and Moravat Iqbal of Mandi Bahauddin.

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