Khuzdar Press Club president among 3 dead, at least 5 injured in car bomb attack: officials

Published May 3, 2024
The vehicle of Khuzdar Press Club (KPC) President Maulana Muhammad Siddique Mengal that was targeted in a bomb blast on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
The vehicle of Khuzdar Press Club (KPC) President Maulana Muhammad Siddique Mengal that was targeted in a bomb blast on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Khuzdar Press Club (KPC) President Maulana Muhammad Siddique Mengal was among three dead and at least five others injured due to a car bomb attack in the district of Balochistan on Friday, police and medical officials said.

The incident coincided with World Press Freedom Day and the release of the 2024 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders which saw Pakistan dropping two places to 152. The index said Pakistan was “one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with three to four murders each year”.

City Police Station House Officer (SHO) Ghulam Mustafa told Dawn.com the blast occurred near the Chamrok area at Sultan Ibrahim Khan Road around Friday prayers. He said Mengal, a provincial senior leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F), was killed on the spot while nine others were injured who were taken to Civil Hospital Khuzdar.

He added that the situation of two injured brothers was critical and they died in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Ali Ahmed Bangalzai told Dawn.com that Mengal’s body and seven injured were brought to the hospital which dwindled to five after two more deaths.

The SHO said camera footage of the incident was obtained which showed that a man riding a motorcycle comes near Mengal’s moving vehicle and attaches a “magnetic bomb” which exploded a few seconds later.

Mustafa said evidence was collected from the scene, saying that Mengal was attacked while going somewhere to lead prayers.

The SHO said a case was registered by the Counter-Terrorism Department under terrorism charges upon his complaint.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed grief over the incident and loss of life.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti strongly condemned the blast and expressed regret over the lives lost .

The chief minister also directed the inspector general of police to submit a report after upon the completion of the investigation and to take measures to arrest those involved in the attack.

“The elements involved in the incident cannot escape from the grip of the law, “he said and added that restoring peace and security and protecting people’s lives and property were the government’s responsibility.

“All nefarious designs of anti-peace elements will be foiled through contributions of security forces and the public in order to maintain durable peace for the interest of the province’s progress,” he said.

Information Minister Attaullah Tarar lauded the services rendered by Mengal in the field of journalism and said his death was a “big blow” to the profession and field.

Reiterating the governments commitment to root out terrorism from the country, he vowed to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to the justice. He assured that a thorough probe would be conducted in this regard.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi also condemned the attack.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman strongly condemned the incident and called for the culprits to be punished.

“Institutions that establish peace and order are engaged in political interference and the lives and property of the people are not in a happy state,” he bit out in a post on X.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) called on the provincial government to arrest those responsible for the incident.

The BUJ announced a three-day mourning period to protest against Mengal’s death in a demonstration held outside the Quetta Press Club on World Press Freedom Day.

Representatives from various segments of the society, including lawyers, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the Peoples Students Forum, civil society and journalists in a large number participated in the protest.

BUJ President Khalil Ahmed strongly condemned the brutal murder of the KPC president, emphasising that such acts undermined press freedom and democracy.

He urged prompt and thorough investigations into the murder to bring the perpetrators to justice. He also stressed the need for enhanced safety measures for journalists in the region and beyond.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Vice President Saleem Shahid highlighted the pivotal role journalists played in upholding democracy and freedom of expression.

He stressed the imperative of ensuring journalists’ safety and their right to report freely without fear of reprisal or censorship.

HRCP’s Advocate Jalila Haider and civil society activist Fareed Shahwani echoed the call for solidarity and support for journalists globally, emphasising the importance of truth and transparency in media reporting.

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