QUETTA: At least nine people — five civilian employees, three policemen and a candidate — were killed and 21 others injured in a terrorist attack on the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Zhob Range, in Loralai, some 300 kilometres from here, on Tuesday.

DIG Nisar Tanoli and other senior officers were rescued as security forces killed one attacker after two suicide bombers blew themselves up on the office premises.

The gun-and-bomb attack was launched when several hundred candidates were taking a written test on the grounds of the DIG office for recruitment in the police department. The Inspector General of Police, Balochistan, Mohsin Butt, while confirming the terrorist attack said the candidates were the target of the attackers.

It was the second attack on security forces in Loralai within a month. Earlier on January 1, terrorists had attacked the training centre of the Frontier Corps in the cantonment area of Loralai. Security forces had killed four attackers while four security personnel were martyred while resisting the armed men at the entrance of the training centre.

Two suicide bombers blow themselves up, another shot dead by security forces

Official sources said around 400 candidates were busy taking the written exam at the DIG office on Tuesday when three armed men started firing on them after blasting the main gate of the office.

One of the three terrorists blew himself up when police and other security personnel returned fire. Another attacker tried to enter the DIG office but then went towards the residence of the senior police officer. He also blew himself up when the police foiled his attempt to enter the house.

Army and FC personnel rushed to the site and killed the third suicide attacker in an exchange of fire. They later cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.

“During the attack, firing continued for at least two hours,” Mohammad Usman, a local journalist from Loralai, told Dawn over the phone. He said at least three blasts were heard in the area.

Later, the injured and the bodies were shifted to the Loralai district hospital. “We received nine bodies and 21 injured at the hospital,” said Dr Faheem Otmankhail while speaking to Dawn.

He added that six of them were seriously injured. They were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Loralai while three others were moved to Quetta by a helicopter due to their serious condition.

Nine persons who lost their lives were identified as Javed Iqbal, Niamatullah, Ghulam Mohammad Nasar, Sadiq Ali, Mir Zaman Afridi, Salahuddin, Mehmood Nawaz, Kaliq Dad and Sultam Masih.

A bomb disposal squad rushed to Loralai from Zhob. While sweeping the area they found an improvised explosive device at the residence of DIG. Two grenades were also spotted at the entrance to the DIG office and were seized. “The attackers were wearing suicide jackets,” officials of the Bomb disposal squad confirmed after examining the area.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack on the office of the Zhob Range DIG.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Governor retired Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and Home Minister Zia Langove strongly condemned the terrorist attack.

They expressed grief and sorrow over the killing of innocent people and said such attacks could not damage the high morale of security forces.

The Balochistan chief minister said action should be taken against the terrorists and their facilitators in the Loralai area. He asked the relevant officials to submit a report of the incident to him.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2019