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85 dead as terror strikes Parachinar, Quetta

Updated June 24, 2017

The death toll from Friday's blasts targeting security personnel and civilians in Quetta and Parachinar has risen to 85, with 24 more people injured passing away overnight.

Around 200 injured are still being treated and the condition of 15 is said to be critical. It is feared that the death toll may climb further, particularly in Parachinar where a second bomb was timed to target people rushing to help victims injured in the first explosion.

Read: Recent terror attacks linked to sanctuaries across border, says ISPR

Most of the casualties were reported in Parachinar's twin blasts, where Shahid Khan, a government official confirmed there were at least 67 dead and about 200 wounded.

District Headquarters Hospital Parachinar Medical Superintendent Dr. Sabir Hussain said they had received 261 victims of the twin blasts, with 62 listed in critical condition.

He said that army choppers airlifted 11 seriously injured people to Peshawar and added that some bodies might also have been taken away from the blast site.

Eyewitnesses in Parachinar said the first blast, which took place in the busy Turi Market where people were shopping for Eid, occurred minutes after an Al Quds Day rally had started dispersing at some distance from the scene of the attack.

Muhammad Hussain, who sustained injuries in the incident, told Dawn that he was heading for his poultry shop after the conclusion of the Al Quds rally when the first blast took place.

Another explosion shook the area soon after a large number of people rushed to the site to help the injured.

“I lost consciousness after the second blast and later found myself on a hospital bed,” Hussain said.

Kausar Ali, younger brother of Dawn Peshawar's senior correspondent Zulfiqar Ali, also lost his life in the Parachinar blast.

Kausar, who ran his business in the market, had rushed to the blast site to help the injured after the first explosion and died in the second blast.

Security forces arrive at the scene. ─ Photo:DawnNews.
Security forces arrive at the scene. ─ Photo:DawnNews.

The town, which has been caught in the crosshairs of militants for the past several years, sank into paralysis as communication links were broken soon after the incident.

“Better ask the hospital about death toll as we are dealing with a security situation,” a political administration official told Dawn when approached for comment.

Quetta explosion

Two outfits said they had carried out the suicide car bomb blast in Quetta — Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and, according to the AFP news service, the militant Islamic State group.

The attack left 14 — including seven policemen and a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Nazaryati) — dead, as well as more than 20 others injured.

The bombing took place in front of Balochistan police inspector general’s office at Shuhada Chowk.

Security personnel stand-by at the site of the blast after it was cordoned off.─ Photo:DawnNews.
Security personnel stand-by at the site of the blast after it was cordoned off.─ Photo:DawnNews.

Official sources said that a car had approached the IGP’s office from Gulistan Road at around 8:30am and rammed into the buffer of sandbags around the boundary of the Central Police Office (CPO).

According to an eyewitness, the attacker initially tried to enter the CPO premises, but drove into the sandbags instead.

Assuming that the car had veered into the bags by accident, the policemen on security duty in front of the IGP’s office helped push the car towards Shuhada Chowk.

They asked the driver to get out, but he refused. Then the bomb planted in the vehicle went off, killing seven people, including four policemen, on the spot.

“We received 13 bodies and 20 injured people,” said Wasim Baig, spokesperson for Quetta’s Civil Hospital.

“The roads linking to Shuhada Chowk were strewn with dismembered body parts,” Muhammad Zahid, who had witnessed the attack, told Dawn, adding that some bodies were beyond identification.

The injured included nine policemen, four army personnel, a girl and a woman, and the condition of at least five of them is said to be serious. The army men were taken to the Combined Military Hospital.

The bodies of 12 people were handed over to their families but one body could not be identified. The deceased include: Sajid Ali, Ghani Khan, Ghulam Shabbir, Faisal Khan, Sajjad Hussain, Muhammad Amin, Sanaullah, Anwar Ali, Muhammad Naeem, Lal Khan, Muhammad Kashif and Dr Abdul Rehman of the JUI-N.

Several other vehicles were damaged and the walls of a house in the Mission Girls School collapsed and windowpanes of surrounding buildings shattered.

Soon after the attack, officials of the Bomb Disposal Squad arrived at the site and collected evidence. They said the car had been carrying 90-95kg of explosives.

A high-level police team has been formed to investigate the blasts. The team includes Superintendent Police (SP) Counter-Terrorism, SP CIA and SP Investigation. Forensic experts will arrive in Quetta today.

Damaged car at the site of the bombing.
Damaged car at the site of the bombing.

Sources said that law enforcement agencies had received a threat alert for the possibility of such an attack.

Provincial government spokesperson Anwar-ul Haq Kakar said it was likely that attacker wanted to target the IGP’s office. However, the IGP was not in his office when the bomb went off, a constable said.

There are several important government offices in the vicinity of Shuhada Chowk, including the State Bank of Pakistan, the Army’s China check post, the entry to the Quetta Cantonment, and the residence of provincial home minister. A vehicle carrying army personnel was damaged in the blast, and a captain and three soldiers were injured.

Home Secretary Dr Akbar Harifal told reporters that security had been tightened in the provincial capital.

The funeral prayers of the seven policemen were later offered at Police Lines.

Interior minister calls on security officials to discuss situation

Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar on Saturday made telephonic contact with Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar, Director General Sindh Rangers Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed and Inspector General Frontier Corps Balochistan Maj Gen Nadeem Ahmed on Saturday to assess the security situation in the country after the attacks.

The interior minister inquired about the progress in the investigation into incidents in Karachi, Parachinar and Quetta that occurred a day before.

"The perpetrators of these attacks want to create uncertainty about the security situation in the country," Chaudhary Nisar said.

"But these cowards will not be able to cripple the nation and rob us of our strength," he added.

Talking to the chief of general staff, Chaudhar Nisar pointed out that incidents of such nature spring up every time the Pak-Afghan border is opened up.

The interior minister said, "It is strange that every time there is any incident of terrorism in Afghanistan, they are quick to blame Pakistan for it; however there is no discussion in international forums about the terrorism that comes to Pakistan from across the border."

"It is important that we police our borders effectively and protect them from outside threats," he added.

"It should also be remembered that the provincial government was sent two alerts about possible attacks in Parachinar prior to yesterday's incident," Nisar said.

The interior minister directed DG Rangers Sindh to provide tight security to citizens, especially in the next few days.

He also paid tribute to the police officers that lost their life in the firing incident in Karachi on June 23.

With reporting by Hussain Afzal, Saleem Shahid, Shakeel Qarrar, Ali Akbar and Syed Ali Shah.