QUETTA, Oct 10: Eight people, a policeman and a child among them, were killed and over 60 injured when a powerful bomb exploded near a police station here on Thursday.

Eight policemen and three women were among the injured. Five of the injured are said to be in serious condition.

The banned United Baloch Army (UBA) claimed responsibility for the blast.

The police station is located in Liaquat Bazaar, a commercial hub in the heart of the city. Thousands of people, including women and children, were busy in Eid shopping when the explosion took place at about at 4.55pm. It was heard far and wide.

“It was a time bomb planted in a bicycle parked near the main gate of the City Police Station,” Home Secretary Asad Gilani told Dawn.

A truck of the Balochistan Constabulary parked near the police station was damaged by the blast.

“One constable was killed and eight policemen were wounded,” DIG (operations) Jaffar Khan said.

Frontier Corps and police personnel and rescue teams rushed to the site and took the bodies and the injured to the Civil Hospital. Most of the injured were later referred to the Combined Military Hospital because of their serious condition and a strike by Civil Hospital doctors in protest against the abduction of a senior doctor.

The body of the child and three injured women were brought to the Civil Hospital. Doctors said the child’s body bore multiple injuries. He had come to Liaquat Bazaar with his mother who was injured.

Quetta Division Commissioner retired Captain Usman Gul said the police station was the target of the attack.

“I was near the police station along with my children when the bomb went off,” said Muhammad Yousuf, one of the injured. “Thanks God, my children who were with me for Eid shopping are safe.” A number of shops near the police station and windows of dozens of nearby shopping plazas and buildings were damaged. Over 12 vehicles, two motorcycles, three bicycles and a rickshaw were destroyed.

Citing preliminary investigation reports, police said the blast appeared to have been caused by a timed device planted in a bicycle. They did not rule out the possibility of the device having been detonated by remote control.

Calling reporters by a satellite phone from an unspecified place, UBA spokesman Murid Baloch said the attack had been carried out by his organisation.

Balochistan Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch condemned the blast and expressed grief over the loss of innocent lives. They directed the police authorities to arrest the suspects and bring them to justice.

The chief minister directed the officials concerned to provide all necessary medical facilities to the injured. He also ordered tightening of security in markets.

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