QUETTA: Eleven people, including four policemen, were killed and around a dozen injured after police attempted to stop the car of a suspected suicide bomber from targeting its offices on Gulistan Road early Friday.
Around 12 injured persons, along with the bodies, were shifted to Civil Hospital, according to hospital officials. Of the injured, nine are said to be policemen.
Talking to Geo News, Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar said, the suspected bomber, likely travelling in a 1986 Toyota Corolla, tried to break a security perimeter to target the police offices but blew up after policemen standing guard attempted to stop him.
Kakar said India is using terror as a tool against the people of Pakistan, adding that India is playing an extremely irresponsible role in Balochistan.
Security officials also confirmed that the blast was the result of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device which exploded after the ‘suspicious’ driver was spotted by policemen.
Addressing the media earlier, DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema confirmed that at least one policeman has lost his life in the incident but could not reveal his identity.
He added that they are examining CCTV footage to determine further details about the incident.
Security forces have cordoned off the site of the blast and are investigating after rescue services shifted the injured and deceased to hospital. Officials said body parts of the suspected bomber, strewn across the site of the blast, are being collected along with other evidence for forensic examination.
Senior government officials, including Inspector General Frontier Corps Major General Nadeem Anjum, also visited the site to oversee the investigation.
The incident took place near Shuhada Chowk on Gulistan Road, opposite the police chief’s office. The area falls under a high security zone, with offices of senior police officials and Police Lines situated there.
Footage of the incident showed two vehicles badly damaged in the explosion, while debris lay scattered on the street.
Officials said the explosion was loud enough to be heard from a distance and shattered windows of nearby buildings.
Emergency has been declared at Civil Hospital as well as Bolan Medical Complex, said rescue officials.
Immediately after the explosion, security of Civil Hospital was tightened with police officers deployed at all entry and exit points of the premises.
The police are searching all the people entering the hospital. The deputy commissioner also visited the hospital to oversee the arrangements.
Extra security measures were already in place in the provincial capital, which has witnessed several attacks in the past, in light of Jumma-tul-Wida (today) and Eid-ul-Fitr.
Condemnations pour in
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the incident and expressed grief at the loss of lives. He demanded a report from the provincial government over the incident.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while condemning the attack, said that terrorists involved in the attack will be taken to task and all out efforts will be taken to eliminate terrorism. Those injured in the incident will be provided with best medical facilities for their treatment, he remarked.
Nation is resolved to finish the menace of terrorism from the country, he added.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and former president Asif Ali Zardari,among others, condemned the attack and expressed grief over the loss of innocent lives.
Previous attacks in Quetta
Earlier this year, on February 13, a blast took place near the Saryab Bridge in Quetta killing two personnel of the bomb disposal squad and leaving 11 injured.
Later in March, an explosion targeting a security forces convoy occurred on Saryab Road. Four people were injured including three Frontier Corps personnel and a passer-by.
In August, last year, a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Civil Hospital, following the death of the president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, killing at least 70 people and leaving many wounded.
In October, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry commission under Justice Qazi Faiz Esa to probe into the attack in which majority of those killed were lawyers.
The ensuing report of the one-man commission criticised the federal and provincial government for its “monumental failure to combat terrorism and perform basic protocols”.