Nine people, including four children, lost their lives while a woman was injured on Wednesday when a “rocket launcher’s” ordnance exploded in a house in Mehwal Shah area of Kashmore district’s Kandhkot tehsil, police said.
Kashmore-Kandhkot Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rohail Khoso confirmed the casualties to Dawn.com, specifying that the deceased included five children, two women and two men.
He further said that the injured woman was referred to a Larkana hospital from Kandhkot, while the bodies of the deceased had been brought to the Kandhkot Civil Hospital.
The official said that the house — located in the limits of Goghat police station — belonged to Ali Nawaz Sabzoi, and that all the deceased and injured belonged to the same family.
SSP Khoso stated that the police had arrived at the site of the incident and had surrounded the area.
According to him, children found a rocket while playing and brought it home where it exploded, due to which eight people were killed. The SSP said further investigation was under way and an emergency had been declared at the Kandhkot Civil Hospital.
In a statement, Sindh Chief Minister Justice Maqbool Baqar took notice of the incident and sought a report from the provincial inspector general on “how a rocket launcher reached the Zangi Subzwai Goth”.
“Was any stock of weapons being smuggled to the kutcha (riverine) areas? Are there enablers of the dacoits present in the goth (village)?”, the statement quoted him asking.
He wondered how the rocket launcher shell exploded, leading to a “loss of lives to this extent”.
Expressing his grief on the incident, he directed the IG, “A detailed report shall be submitted to me.”
Last week, the Sindh Apex Committee — a forum of civil and military officials — reviewed the law and order situation in the riverine areas of the province, and approved and finalised details of a massive operation to be launched by police and Rangers against dacoit gangs in affected districts of upper Sindh.
The SAC was told that Rangers had been deployed along with police in upper Sindh districts and a crackdown on organised weapon smuggling had resulted in the seizure of the first cache of military-grade weapons in Ghotki.
The approval of an operation has been given multiple times. First, the then Murad Ali Shah-led cabinet had in March approved a grand operation clean-up in riverine areas.
Later, the caretaker cabinet took up the matter in its meeting on September 14 and decided to launch a massive operation in the riverine area and shut down the internet services.
Previous similar incidents
Incidents where people were said to be “playing with” similar dangerous objects have also occurred in the past.
In April this year, a shepherd was killed in a grenade blast on the outskirts of Chaman when he found the hand grenade and started playing with it.
Two days prior to that, three children were killed in an explosion in an abandoned compound in the same region while playing with an object they had found inside the compound.
In January last year, two children were killed and another was critically wounded in an explosion when the grenade they were playing with went off.
In June 2021, three teenage boys died and two others suffered injuries in a hand grenade explosion in Quetta. The children were playing with the hand grenade “after mistaking it for a toy” when it exploded.
In January of the same year, three brothers were killed and two others injured when a grenade that they found in the fields and were playing with went off in Peshawar.
In a similar incident in January 2019, three children were killed and another sustained injuries in Balochistan’s Washuk district after they had found an unexploded grenade and were playing with it when it exploded.
In April 2013, a toy bomb exploded in Buner District, killing two children and a woman after the rocket-like shell they were playing with exploded.
The same month, at least two people were injured when a rocket landed from an unknown direction at a political gathering in South Waziristan’s Wana area.
Local political admin sources had said that children had found a toy-looking explosive device which exploded after they had brought it home and were busy playing with it.