Suicide attack on Shias kills 14 in Quetta
29 June, 2012
QUETTA: At least 14 people, including two policemen and a woman, were killed and 30 others, including women and children, sustained injuries in a suicide attack on a bus of pilgrims coming from Iran. The incident occurred in Hazar Ganji area on Thursday.
Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai, while confirming to our sources that it was a suicide blast, said the suicide bomber was driving a private car and hit the bus head-on. "At least 14 people were killed and 30 others sustained injuries," he said, adding that another bus carrying pilgrims was stopped in Mustang for security reasons. The passengers of that bus were rushed to their homes in the protection of levies escort vehicles.
According to sources, the bus that came under attack was carrying 50 passengers and was coming from Taftan, a bordering area with Iran. It was hit by a car in Hazar Ganji area near the fruit market. Two police vehicles were providing security cover to the bus, sources said, adding that the majority of the passengers belonged to the Hazara community. The blast completely destroyed the bus and the two police vans. Eyewitness said the explosion was so intense that fire erupted in the bus and it plunged into a ravine 50 feet far from the road. A crane was called in to pull the bus out from the ditch.
"At least 50 kilogrammes of explosive material was used in the blast," Bomb Disposal Squad officials told reporters. Sources in the provincial Home Department informed this scribe that the bus should have been stopped at a safe place for security clearance before being allowed into the city. Capital City Police Officer Meer Zubair told reporters heavy load of explosive material was used in the blast, to ensure a large number of deaths and destruction. "Two policemen were killed and three others sustained injures while performing their security duty," he said, adding that probably a private car had hit the bus, but it was being investigated.
The deceased and injured were shifted to the Civil Hospital, Bolan Medical Complex and Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and emergency was declared at all hospitals. Volunteers and rescue workers from different organisations had rushed to the blast site and removed the dead and injured to the hospitals. Most of the dead and injured were shifted to Civil Hospital and the Bolan Medical College teaching hospital. Only nine injured were shifted to the CMH, a source said.
The Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), Tahfuz-e-Izadari Council, Tehreek Nifaz-e-Jaffaria, Balochistan Shia Conference, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and other political parties condemned the attacked and said the culprits should be brought to justice. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi's spokesman Abdu Bakar claimed the group had carried out the suicide attack, and said it was in revenge for attack on a madrassa and tablighi centre.
The attack comes a day after a bomb planted under a tea stall at a railway station in Sibbi killed seven people, including a child, and wounded more than a dozen others. Balochistan has become an increasing flashpoint for sectarian violence. This month, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay voiced concern about "very grave" rights violations in the province. Around 5,000 people have been killed in outbreaks of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia militant groups in Pakistan since the late 1980s.
Several militant groups are active in Balochistan. Militants loyal to al Qaeda and the Taliban have carried out high-profile attacks on members of Shia minority in the past. In recent months, they have stepped up attacks on Shias in Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. Much of the violence in the province has been blamed on ethnic Baloch militants, who are fighting a protracted insurgency, demanding more autonomy and control over the natural resources of the province.