At least 4 killed as IED blast hits passenger train in Mastung

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At least four people were killed and seven wounded when a passenger train hit an improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a railway track in in Dasht area of Mastung district in Balochistan on Sunday.

The eight kilogramme bomb targeted the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express around 30 kilometres away from the provincial capital, Quetta, slightly damaging a compartment of the train.

Deputy Superintendent (DS) Railway Faiz Mohammed Bugti confirmed that it was a remote controlled explosion and killed four employees of Railway who were traveling to Punjab from Quetta.

Anwar Sammo, another senior government official, told AFP that an IED was used in the attack. ”The IED was planted on the railway track. All those killed and injured were railway employees,” Sammo told AFP, adding that some 650 passengers were travelling in the train.

The injured were shifted to a local hospital while the train left for its destination after the track was repaired. Sources said one of the suspects also received wounds while trying to escape from the scene; however, he still managed to flee.

Security forces have launched a search operation in the area.

This is not the first time the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express has been targeted by terrorists. In January, terrorists had targeted the train with an improvised explosive device in the same area, causing damage to its locomotive but no casualties. Miscreants detonated the IED when the train chugged past, according to an official of the Balochistan Levies. “The locomotive was partially damaged in the explosion, but no one was hurt,”

In August, at least three militants who were strapping an IED to a rail track died after they accidentally detonated a hand grenade and set off a blast in the Bala Nari area of Bolan district in central Balochistan. The militants were planning to blow up the rail tracks and derail a train. “The saboteurs were placing a bomb on the railway track, but it went off prematurely,” an official of the Levies Force had said. “The militants were planting the bomb when a hand grenade exploded accidentally triggering the IED too,” said Bala Nari tehsildar Kamran Raisani.

Provincial authorities believe that Balochistan has witnessed a substantial drop in violence this year. Experts believe that this development would help pave the way for a ‘conclusive reconciliation plan’ as regards the estranged Baloch leaders that was stalled due to different challenges in the troubled province.

Official documents, put together for the Balochistan apex committee monitoring the progress of the National Action Plan, claim a ‘dramatic decrease’ in violent incidents in the volatile areas of the province. The provincial home department says the emerging situation is the result of the joint efforts of the military and the civilian government for establishing peace in the province.

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