QUETTA: At least five people, a woman and a child among them, were killed and 27 others suffered injuries in a suicide attack on a convoy of a paramilitary force in the Sariab Road area on Saturday.
The target of the attack was the commandant of Chiltan Rifles, a wing of the Frontier Corps (FC), as the suicide bomber blew himself up close to his vehicle. However, the commandant was not travelling in the vehicle at that time.
Two FC personnel travelling in an escort vehicle were injured in the attack.
“The driver and other security personnel travelling in the commandant’s vehicle remained safe as the vehicle was bombproof,” official sources said, adding that the vehicle was partially damaged in the blast.
Sources said that the suicide bomber targeted the FC convoy when it was going to pick up the commandant. The suicide bomber was waiting near a eatery in the busy Sariab Road area and struck when the FC convoy reached near the bus terminal, DIG of Quetta Abdul Razzak Cheema said. The target of the assault was the commandant, he added.
As a result of the massive blast, four people who were passing through the area were killed and 27 others were injured. “The four people died on the spot as they were close to the explosion site,” DIG Cheema said. The wounded included two women and one of them later succumbed to her injuries in the Trauma Centre of the Civil hospital.
“We have received four bodies and over a dozen injured,” Wasim Baig, spokesman for the Sandeman Civil Hospital told Dawn, adding that a child was also among the dead.
Rescue workers shifted the dead and injured to the Civil Hospital and the FC Hospital Quetta. Security forces cordoned off the area and started investigation.
Personnel of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) collected evidence from the site of the explosion. “Around 10kg explosive was used in the suicide jacket worn by the bomber,” BDS officials said.
The head and body parts of the suicide bomber were recovered from the explosion site, according to investigators.
“A team of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency is reaching Quetta on Sunday to examine the site,” a senior investigation officer of police force said.
“I saw a man who had been standing near a eatery rushing towards the FC convoy and then heard a blast, which was so powerful that its impact caused me to fall down on the road,” said Abdullah Jan, a 45-year-old man working at a tea stall.
Another man Muhammad Iqbal said that after the blast “I saw my son has received minor injuries”.
No one has claimed responsibility for the suicide blast so far.
Meanwhile Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri has condemned the suicide attack, deplored the killing of innocent people and directed officials concerned to beef up security measure across the city.
Provincial Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti and Inspector General of the FC visited the blast site and vowed to launch a fierce offensive against terrorists.
“Terrorists have been launching attacks on security personnel, including high-level officials, because they are crushing them but these cowardly attempts can’t lower our forces’ morale,” Mr Bugti said while talking to the media at the blast site.
He added, “We are in war(like) condition and such attacks can’t be ruled out, but forces’ preventive measures and intelligence-based operations have foiled many such attacks.”
In a recent spate of terrorism two senior police officials have been killed in Quetta during the past two weeks. On Nov 9, DIG Telecommunication Hamid Shakeel was killed along with two policemen in a suicide attack in Chaman Housing Scheme.
Just after a week Acting SP Investigation Muhammad Ilyas was gunned down in Nawan Killi.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2017