QUETTA: At least 15 people, among them 13 police personnel and a soldier of the Frontier Corps, were killed and 25 others injured when a suicide bomber struck the city’s Satellite Town area on Wednesday morning. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and another proscribed group, Jaishul Islam, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The bomber blew himself up near a government health centre being used for organising a polio vaccination campaign.
“A man blew himself up near police vehicles,” Balochistan police chief Ahsan Mehboob said.
13 policemen, FC soldier, civilian killed in Quetta
The dead included personnel of security agencies deployed to protect the teams carrying out the anti-polio campaign in Quetta district.
Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri called for immediate action against terrorists involved in the attack. He said he was committed to eradicating terrorism from the province.
According to officials, the attacker detonated his suicide jacket near the vehicles of security personnel.
Twelve policemen, an FC soldier and a civilian were killed on the spot while an injured constable died in the Combined Military Hospital.
“Most of the security personnel were in their vehicles when they were attacked,” a witness, Mohammad Iqbal, said.
After the powerful blast, he said, he saw bodies and injured men on the ground.
Another witness, Noorullah, said the bodies of uniformed police personnel were lying in pools of blood while limbs of the other dead were scattered at a distance.
Security personnel cordoned off the area and took the bodies and the injured to the Civil Hospital.
“We received 14 bodies and 26 injured people,” Dr Rasheed Jamali, a senior doctor in the Civil Hospital said. Six of the severely injured people were sent to the CMH.
Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti and Inspector General Mehboob visited the blast site.
Mr Bugti said police had found parts of the body of the suicide bomber. “We are in a war zone and such incidents cannot be ruled out,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General Imtiaz Shah told reporters that around 7kg explosives had been used in the suicide jacket. “Our officers and soldiers laid down their lives to protect polio workers,” he said.
The blast destroyed three vehicles of police and the FC, a rickshaw and a motorcycle and caused damage to nearby buildings and houses.
A spokesman for the banned TTP, Muhammad Khurasani, sent an email to journalists, claiming responsibility of the suicide attack. But Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the banned Jaishul Islam, made a similar claim and said the attack had been carried out by his group to avenge the act of torturing the people in custody.
“A team comprising senior officials is investigating the incident,” a police officer said.
The ongoing anti-polio campaign in the district was halted for an hour after the attack but was resumed later.
“No polio worker or other staff member was hurt,” Dr Syed Saifur Rehman, the Coordinator of the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, said.
Those killed in the attack included police Sub Inspectors Muneem Ahmed, Mohammad Khan and Hazoor Bakhsh, Assistant Sub Inspectors Jumma Khan, Abdul Qadir, Abdul Khaliq and Mohammad Amin, Head Constable Ali Gul, Constables Faizullah, Rasool Bakhsh, Asif and Noorullah, FC soldier Tuseef Ahmed and civilian Ali Muhammad. The name of one dead policeman could not be ascertained till late night.
The injured admitted to the hospitals included 18 police personnel, two FC soldiers and six civilians.
Mr Zehri visited the hospitals along with Health Minister Rehmat Saleh Baloch and other ministers and also attended the funeral prayers in Police Lines
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2016