Injured people lie down on road after an explosion in Quetta.—AP

QUETTA At least 53 people were killed and 197 injured on Friday in a suicide bombing targeting a Shia Muslim rally in Quetta, the latest in a string of sectarian attacks.


“According to the reports collected from hospitals, 53 people have been kiled and 197 have been injured,” Sardar Khan, chief of Quettas police control room told AFP by telephone.


Police said the bomber was among the 450-strong crowd and detonated on reaching the main square in the city, triggering chaotic scenes, with people setting fires as others fled or laying on the ground to avoid ongoing gunfire.


A doctor in Quettas main hospital said the toll of wounded was higher, with more than 80 people receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the attack.


The rally was being held to mark Al-Quds day, an international event staged every year by the Shia community, opposing Israels control of Jerusalem and showing solidarity with Palestinian Muslims.


Malik Iqbal, police chief for Baluchistan province, said rally organisers had been warned to use a different route in case of terror attacks.


Police were forced to quell unrest following the attack, said Khan.


“An angry mob tried to set on fire a private building and vehicles. Some of the participants were armed and they were firing in the air. They also set on fire some bicycles and motorcycles,” said Khan.


Local television channel Aaj said one of its drivers had been killed in the blast, while there were reports of several other journalists injured in the incident.


Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the bomb blast and called for an immediate inquiry into the incident.


The US embassy also condemned the attack. It was the latest in a string of attacks as Muslims marked the final days of the holy month of Ramadan.—AFP



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