Quetta 'suicide blast' carried out to disrupt Pakistan's peace, progress: interior minister

Published April 22, 2021
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday said that the bomb blast at Quetta's Serena Hotel a day earlier — which claimed the lives of five people and injured at least a dozen — was a suicide attack with its real objective being to "disrupt peace in Pakistan".

Speaking to the media in Islamabad, he said he was issuing the statement in light of the queries raised by international media.

"The [attacker] was a suicide bomber and used C4 explosives, weighing between 60 to 70 kilogrammes. The suicide attacker stayed in the car which has been sent for forensic [analysis]."

Talking about the injured, he said six of them remained in hospital, while one or two were in critical condition.

Rashid said the attack was carried out by "forces which opposed the country's development and wanted to undo the stability gained by the PTI government", as well as disrupt Quetta's peaceful environment.

"We had handed over the command of 13 security check posts to police, and the Frontier Corps were also ready to leave several others before this bloody incident," he added.

Without elaborating, Rashid said a final decision will be taken after investigations, adding that he had directed the provincial chief secretary to immediately look into the incident.

He said Gwadar and Balochistan were important for Pakistan's progress, terming Gwadar the "future" of the country.

On Wednesday night, a powerful bomb exploded in the parking lot of the Serena Hotel in Quetta, killing at least five people and wounding 12 others.

DIG Azhar Ikram said at the time that the explosive device was apparently fitted in a vehicle, citing initial investigations. He added that a police official was among the deceased.

Responding to a question today, Rashid said the Chinese ambassador was currently present in Balochistan and was safe. "There will be no chaos, we are safe," he stressed.

China is Pakistan's experienced friend, he said, adding that the friendship between the two countries was "higher than the Himalayan mountains".

He said enemy forces were "thinking about terrorism" in big cities in the country because of the way "Pakistan is going towards progress [and] how its economy has taken off under [Prime Minister] Imran Khan's guidance".

He said this was why the interior ministry had directed all 22 security-related departments under it, including the FC, Rangers and Coastal Guards, to be on high alert.

"We are a great nation and the great army and agencies are the country's assets. The way Pakistan Army defeated terrorism by laying down some 60,000 lives, [in the same way,] Pakistan Army, the great agencies and the 220 million people will defeat TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) that is reorganising, and plots hatched in the neighbouring country," he said.

Rashid said between 250,000 and 300,000 social media accounts had been created by people in India within the last eight to 10 days. "I cannot speak about accounts opened in America and Korea. I said previously that there are attempts to internally destabilise Pakistan by forces outside the country," he added.

"They cannot bear [to see] Pakistan growing and prospering."

Ministers and government departments were looking for a solution so a law regarding social media could be enacted and Pakistan would "not have to go through threats", he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the incident, calling it a "cowardly terrorist attack".

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives in the condemnable and cowardly terrorist attack in Quetta. Our nation has made great sacrifices in defeating terrorism and we will not to allow this scourge to rise again. We remain alert to all internal & external threats," he said.

'All Chinese nationals safe'

The Foreign Office on Thursday strongly condemned the terrorist attack, saying it would "not shake our resolve to resolutely fight the scourge of terrorism".

In a series of tweets, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri was quoted as saying that all Chinese nationals were safe.

"All necessary measures are in place for the safety and security of Chinese diplomats and nationals," he added.

Chaudhri said investigations were being carried out from all angles. "Pakistan will pursue the perpetrators of this heinous act and bring them to justice."

The Chinese embassy in Pakistan also said it had not received any reports of Chinese casualties in the attack.

In a statement, it said China "strongly condemns" the terrorist attack and offered condolences on the lives lost.

The Chinese ambassador was visiting Quetta along with a delegation yesterday, however, the delegation was not present in the hotel at the time of the attack, it added.

Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.


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