QUETTA: Security personnel at the blast site near the press club on Monday.—INP 
QUETTA: Security personnel at the blast site near the press club on Monday.—INP 

QUETTA: Eight people — two police personnel and a Levies Force man among them — were martyred and over 20 others injured in a suicide attack near Quetta district courts and press club on Monday.

The suicide bomber had attempted to break through a police barrier and enter a rally, but blew himself up on facing resistance from security personnel, Quetta police chief DIG Abdul Razzak Cheema said, adding that eight people lost their lives and over 20 others were injured in the explosion.

No one had claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing till late into night.

The officer said the target of the suicide bomber was apparently the (Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) rally being held outside the press club to mark the death anniversary of Hazrat Abu Bakr.

DIG Cheema said the police had cordoned off the area to provide security to the participants of the rally. “A youngster came to the site on foot and tried to break into the rally, but when the police personnel did not allow him to enter the area he blew himself up,” he said, adding that the police officials laid down their lives while saving those in the rally.

Three security personnel among martyrs; no one claims responsibility

The dead officials were identified as Abdul Rasool and M. Hameed (both policemen), and Mohammad Zaman (Levies Force official), while four of the five other deceased were identified as Mohammad Naseem, Manzoor Ahmad, Ahmadullah and Hazrat Ali.

Soon after the explosion, security forces cordoned off the blast site as a bomb disposal squad started collecting evidence. The DIG said the head of the suspected suicide bomber was also found at the blast site.

A senior BDS official said: “It was a suicide blast in which around 6kg of explosive material was used.”

Earlier, rescue workers shifted the bodies to the Civil Hospital where the government had decla­red a state of emergency. Dr Wasim Baig, spokesman for the hospital said: “We received eight bodies and over 20 injured in civil hospital.” He described the condition of nine of the injured persons as serious.

The suicide bombing damaged half a dozen vehicles, including motorcycles and rickshaws, besides windowpanes and doors of many nearby shops and buildings.

Police later sealed the blast site, as a team of officials from Lahore is expected to arrive here on Tuesday for further investigation.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, Balochistan Assembly Speaker, Home Minister and Chief Secretary strongly condemned the bomb attack and expressed deep grief and sorrow over the killing of innocent people in Quetta.

CM Alyani ordered the authorities concerned to submit a detailed report of the incident and take all possible measures to trace and arrest the culprits.

He said: “Enemies of peace and progress of Balochistan and Pakistan are attempting to destabilize the country.” He instructed the law enforcement agencies to improve security measures in the capital and other parts of Balochistan.

The chief minister also directed the relevant authorities to provide best medical facilities to the injured. He expressed his deep sorrow and grief over the death of innocent people and security officials, and prayed for their families. He also prayed for the early recovery of the injured persons.

While condemning the attack, Governor Yasinzai said terrorists were attempting to sabotage peaceful atmosphere of Pakistan’s largest province but the nation stood united to foil their nefarious designs. He asked the law enforcement agencies to tighten security and arrest the culprits at the earliest. He also issued directives for provision of best possible medical facilities to the injured.

The provincial minister for home and tribal affairs, Mir Zia Ahmed Langove, said nobody would be permitted to disturb law and order of the province. The minister said anti-state elements were trying to destabilize the country. He vowed that miscreants would be dealt with an iron hand.

Chief Secretary Fazil Asghar expressed heartfelt grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives. He said those targeting innocent people deserved harsh punishment for it. He directed the officials concerned to tighten security across the city.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020