Blasts hit all provincial capitals, dozen killed
11 October, 2013
LAHORE: Bomb attacks hit all the provincial capitals on Thursday, killing a dozen people and wounding nearly 50, a day after the Taliban leader said he was still open to government peace talks.
In the day's deadliest attack, a massive remote-controlled bomb blast outside a police station in a crowded market of Quetta left as many as six people dead, including one policeman and a child, and injured 36 others, 17 of whom were policemen. Many were seriously wounded. Banned outfit Baloch United Army (BUA) claimed responsibility for the blast and said the police station was the target of the attack, which was a reaction for not allowing international aid to earthquake- hit areas of Balochistan.
According to police, the bomb had been rigged to a motorbike parked outside the City Police Station in the proximity of Bacha Khan Chowk. Talking to media, Quetta Commissioner Usman Gul confirmed the casualty figures and expressed fear that the blast could be a backlash of the operations carried out in Karachi and elsewhere, as many terrorists have penetrated into the province.
Rescue workers reached the site shortly after the blast and rushed the dead and injured to the Civil Hospital Quetta. The hospital sources stated the condition of many of the injured was critical. The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) said six kilogrammes of explosive was used in the blast.
The explosion damaged several vehicles and motorbikes, and caused a stampede. It also shattered windowpanes of surrounding buildings. Liaqat Bazaar, where the explosion hit, is one of the busiest markets of Quetta where people from all parts of the city and adjacent areas of Kuchlak and Mastung come for shopping, especially on the festive occasions of Eid. Bacha Khan Chowk has repeatedly been targeted in the past by various militant groups, including sectarian and insurgent. Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch strongly condemned the bomb attack and expressed his deep grief over the losses of lives.
Earlier, a low-intensity blast at a restaurant killed one person and wounded 16 in a popular food street in Lahore. A third blast on Thursday wounded a police officer on the Ring Road in Peshawar, which has regularly been hit by gun and bomb attacks in recent years. Attacks on Lahore are rarer, though the Anarkali Bazaar hit on Thursday was also the scene of a bombing in July which killed five people. Senior police officer Rai Tahir confirmed the death toll and said the bomb appeared to have been a relatively low-powered device.
According to police's investigative report, the bomb was installed under the main counter of a shop. TV footage showed broken tables and chairs outside a small restaurant in the street of food shops and stalls, where the bombing in July killed five people and wounded nearly 50 others. That attack was the worst bombing in Lahore since a teenage suicide attacker targeted a Shia procession on January 25, 2011, killing at least nine people.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. Mohammad Kaish, owner of the restaurant, told reporters at the scene that he had not received any threats from militants. Kaish was unhurt but his son was critically wounded. Shopkeeper Ghulam Mustafa told AFP that the blast shattered nearby shops and people started running around in panic. "It was a big explosion and I saw people running here and there. Then we saw injured laying and screaming on the ground," Mustafa said, adding that people took most of the injured to hospital in private vehicles.
A bomb disposal officer told reporters at the site of the Lahore blast that more than a kilogramme of explosive was used in the bomb. In Karachi, police said three suspected militants were killed when a device they were carrying in the western district of Orangi blew up. Later in the evening, at least 12 soldiers were wounded when a security forces' patrol vehicle was targeted by a remote-controlled bomb in Bannu.