QUETTA: At least 15 people, among them eight soldiers, were martyred and 40 others wounded when a suicide bomber targeted a military truck near the Pishin bus stop on Saturday night, officials said.
“A man riding a motorbike came close to the army truck and blew himself up,” a senior official of the Bomb Disposal Squad told Dawn.
Aslam Tareen said around 25-30 kilograms of explosives were used in the suicide attack.
COAS calls attack an attempt to mar ‘Independence Day festivity’; Ahsan to review security in provincial capital
Many vehicles, apart from the army truck, caught fire after the explosion, which was so loud that it was heard all across the city. Windowpanes of nearby buildings were smashed by the impact of the blast.
Officials feared the death toll may climb, as eight of the wounded were in critical condition.
Condemning the terrorist attack, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa termed it an attempt to “mar Independence Day festivity” in the city and declared that “our resolve won’t succumb to any challenge”.
No one claimed the responsibility for the blast till late night.
Witnesses and officials said that the suicide attacker on his bike got close to the army truck when it reached near the Pishin stop on the Khojak Road and blew himself up.
A witness told Dawn he saw rescue workers retrieving charred bodies from the burning truck.
Three fire tenders reached the scene immediately to put out the fire, but it was so huge that it took a lot of time to control it.
A heavy contingent of law enforcement agencies personnel arrived at the scene of the explosion and cordoned off the area, which is in close proximity of the Balochistan Assembly, Quetta Law College, a private hospital and many offices.
The dead and the wounded were shifted to the Civil Hospital Quetta, where along with other health facilities in the city a state of emergency had been declared.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said it was an attack on an “on duty military vehicle”.
It said that terrorists had used “incendiary explosives” due to which many vehicles in the affected area caught fire.
About the death toll, the ISPR confirmed that 15 people, including seven civilians, were martyred in the attack and 25 others, including 15 civilians, wounded.
It said the wounded were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Quetta.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said that a vehicle of the security forces was the target of the terrorist attack. “It was a very huge blast.”
He said the rescue operation had been completed.
According to APP, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal left Islamabad for Quetta in the wake of the terrorist attack.
According to a Prime Minister House statement, during his visit to Quetta, the interior minister would review the security situation along with the provincial government and later brief the prime minister.
The sources said that around two weeks ago a threat alert had been issued stating that an explosive-laden vehicle had entered Quetta and a blast could occur on a crowded place or a market.
Security was already beefed up in the city in connection with the approaching Independence Day.
On July 13, four armed men riding two motorcycles ambushed the official vehicle of Superintendent of Police Mubarak Shah after he left his home in Killi Deba for his office in Quaidabad. The SP and his three guards were killed in the attack. Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for that attack.
Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain condemned the suicide attack.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2017