QUETTA, July 19: At least 30 people, including seven policemen, were killed and 28 others injured on Thursday, when a suicide bomber tried to ram his explosives-laden car into a van taking Chinese engineers to Karachi from Hub, but missed the target when a police van blocked its way.

“All seven Chinese engineers, including a woman, remained unhurt in the car bomb attack,” official sources said. Later, the Chinese engineers were shifted to Karachi by a helicopter.

The Chinese engineers were on their way to Karachi under a heavy security escort from the Dhudar area of Lasbela district, where they were working on a lead and zinc mining project.

It was a suicide attack, a police officer said. He said the car bomber wanted to target the Chinese engineers, but police foiled his attempt by intercepting the explosives-laden car.

“It looks like a suicide attack, but a final opinion would be given after DNA tests of some parts of bodies and heads found around the place of the blast are performed,” Ghulam Qadir Thebo, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, southern region, told Dawn by telephone.

He said that the Chinese engineers were the main target of the bomber.

Balochistan Government spokesman Raziq said that involvement of a `foreign hand’ could not be ruled out in this barbarian act and the government would soon expose the elements who were behind the blast.

“Bodies of policemen and other victims were found 500 to 700 metres away from the blast scene and most of the bodies were beyond recognition because of being severely burnt,” some witnesses and police sources told Dawn.

Personnel of police and other law-enforcement agencies cordoned off the area soon after the blast and shifted bodies and injured to the Jam Ghulam Qadir Hospital.

All the injured were later shifted to different hospitals in Karcahi.

Official sources told Dawn that the seven Chinese engineers were coming to Karachi from their base camp in Dhudar area, escorted by five vehicles of police and personnel of the Frontier Corps.

Witnesses and police sources said that when the convoy reached the Gadani Bus Stand near the main Hub Bazaar around 9am, a suicide bomber tried to ram his explosives-packed vehicle into the van of Chinese engineers after overtaking two vehicles carrying security personnel.

The driver of the police van, on spotting a suspicious car coming towards Chinese engineers’ vehicle, blocked its way and tried to stop it but before it could be intercepted, a massive blast blew up the police van, killing seven policemen and 20 civilians on the spot. Three more people died in hospitals or on way to hospitals.

“We received 19 bodies in the hospital,” a senior doctor at the Jam Ghulam Qadir hospital told Dawn, adding that the injured were immediately shifted to Karachi as condition of most of the victims was very serious.

Wails and groans of the injured could be heard from a distance and human flesh and blood were splattered at the site of the blast, Mushtaq Ahmed, a local journalist, told Dawn by telephone.

“Flames were all around and I also received injuries,” Abdul Hameed, one of the injured, told reports in a hospital.

“I saw cars flying in air with huge flames,”Alam Khan, another injured said.

The blast was so powerful that it rocked the entire industrial township and the bang of the blast was heard 10 kilometres away, Azizullah, a resident of Hub, told Dawn.

Most of the people killed in the blast were passers-by, shopkeepers and labourers waiting for work at the bus stop where the incident took place.

DIG Thebo said that families of each policeman who died in the bombing would be given Rs300,000. He also announced jobs in the police department for a relative of every deceased.

Balochistan Chief Minister announced Rs100,000 each for the dead and Rs50000 each for the injured.

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