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54 killed as Quds Day rally bombed in Quetta

03 September, 2010

QUETTA: Pakistani security personnel and volunteers are busy in rescue activities at the site of a blast in Quetta as more than 50 people lost their l
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QUETTA: Fifty-four people were killed and more than 150 injured in a suicide blast at the Meezan Chowk, the commercial hub of Quetta city, during an Al-Quds Day rally after the Friday prayers. The death toll may rise.

Police said that the Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) took out a rally to mark Youm al-Quds. When the rally, participated by hundreds of people, reached near the Meezan Chowk, a suicide blast occurred, killing over 54 people. A cameraman of a private TV, Muhammad Sarwar, also died.

More than 150 people, including media persons from various TV channels, including Geo TV’s Imran Mukhtar, sustained injuries. They were shifted to the Civil Hospital, where there was no doctor available in the emergency. Later, all the injured were shifted to the CMH for medical treatment.

Eyewitnesses told our sources that after the blast, majority of the people were injured due to stampede in the rally, while the victims of the blast were shifted to hospitals in auto-rickshaws and other available vehicles, as the number of ambulances fell short.

The office-bearers of the ISO stated that security arrangements for the rally were very poor as only a few police personnel were seen along the rally route and any sort of special measures were not observed. However, a senior police officer said the processionists were asked to disperse before the Meezan Chowk but they didn’t agree to it.

Panic gripped Quetta after the blast as rescue workers shifted the dead and injured to hospitals. Soon after the blast, angry protestors fired gunshots in the air for several hours after the incident, creating a tense situation. They also set ablaze six vehicles, and eight motorcycles. All the markets of the provincial capital were closed immediately after the tragic incident.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani expressed their profound grief and sorrow over the bomb blast incident. In their separate statements, they said that it was a conspiracy to create turmoil in the country and pitch the Muslims against one another. The chief minister reiterated to take the elements involved in the terrorism and their perpetrators to task.

Nawab Raisani asked the inspector general of police to submit him a detailed report of the incident and take result-oriented action for arrest of the culprits. He also asked the IGP to beef up the security arrangements.

The chief minister appealed to the masses to remain calm. He also issued special directives to the concerned health department and hospitals’ administrations to provide the best possible treatment facilities to the injured.

The chief minister, expressing sympathy with media persons injured in the bomb blast, announced to bear all the expenditures to be incurred on treatment of the injured media persons.

Agencies add: Police said the bomber was among the 450-strong crowd. CCPO Quetta Ghulam Shabbir Sheikh said that still nature of the explosion was yet to be ascertained whether it was a suicide attack or some explosive device was attached to a motorcycle, which entered the rally. He added that limbs collected from the affected site had been sent to forensic laboratory.

However, the bomb disposal squad claimed that blast was a suicide attack. The squad maintained that 12-15 kg explosive material was used in the blast.

Incidents of firing by the furious people were reported from Marriabad, Ali Town, New Ali Town, Hazara Town, and Alamdar Road while some armed persons also opened firing outside Civil Hospital where bodies and injured were being shifted from the affected site.

Emergency has been declared at hospitals while law enforcement agencies have been patrolling on all important arteries and entrance and exist routes of the city.

Tahaffuz Azadari Council has announced a seven-day mourning. The rally was being held to mark al-Quds day, an international event staged every year, opposing Israel’s control of Jerusalem and showing solidarity with Palestinian Muslims.

Besides the Balochistan’s governor and chief minister, the gory incident also received widespread condemnations from other quarters. In a message, while strongly condemned the bomb blast, President Asif Ali Zardari said the perpetrators of such heinous act were the enemies of the country and would not be spared.

He said the unscrupulous elements, who were behind terrorist activities, wanted to destabilise the country.The president expressed heartfelt shock over the killing of innocent persons and prayed for their eternal salvation.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani also strongly condemned the bomb blast on a procession of ‘Youm al-Quds’.He ordered the concerned authorities for holding an immediate enquiry into the sad incident and provide best medical facilities to the injured.

He conveyed his heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathies to the members of the bereaved families. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned twin suicide bombings in Pakistan Friday, declaring them “unacceptable.”

“The secretary-general strongly condemns the terrorist bombings in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Quetta,” his spokesman said in a statement. “These attacks, which deliberately targeted Shiite Muslims and killed or injured scores of civilians, are unacceptable.”

Ban offered his “sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan.” Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek and Deputy Chairman Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali strongly condemned the bomb blast and termed it as a cowardly act.

Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Wasim Sajjad have also condemned the blast. The US Embassy also condemned the attacks on the procession.

“While details of these attacks are still being verified, our thoughts and deep sympathies are with the families affected by these horrible attacks,” US Embassy Spokesman Richard Snelsire said in a press statement issued here on Friday.

Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti also condemned the blast. Quaid-i-Millat-i-Jafariya Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi, strongly condemning the blast in a rally held on ‘International Youm al-Quds Himayat-i-Mazlomeen’ in Quetta, announced three-day mourning on recent incidents of terrorism.

In a statement, he said suicide attacks on the occasions of martyrdom anniversary of Hazrat Ali (AS) and ‘International Youm al-Quds is a futile attempt to create rift in unity of Muslim Ummah.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists and All Pakistan Newspapers Employees’ Confederation also condemned the suicide attack on the Youm al-Quds rally.

Moreover, the Taliban on Friday claimed responsibility for the Quetta attack, saying it was a revenge for alleged killings of Sunni clerics by Shias.

“We take pride in taking responsibility for the Quetta attack,” Qari Hussain Mehsud told Reuters.

Mehsud also threatened to launch attacks in the US and Europe very soon.“We will launch attacks in America and Europe very soon,” Qari Hussain Mehsud told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.


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