13 killed in attack on pilgrims’ bus in Quetta

QUETTA: A powerful bomb blast targeting pilgrims on Thursday claimed the lives of 13 people, including a cop, and injured 30 others here in the Hazar Gunji area.Hospital sources feared that the death toll may rise, as many of the injured are in a critical condition. Emergency was declared in all the hospitals of the provincial metropolis.

Police officials said a passenger bus, escorted by a police van, carrying 40 pilgrims, was on its way from the Pak-Iran border at Taftan to Quetta. When the bus reached the Hazar Gunji area in the outskirts of the provincial capital, it was targeted by a powerful bomb.

“In view of the evidence, it seems that the explosives were fixed to a car which went off as the bus approached the site,” said CCPO Quetta Mir Zubair while talking to media persons at the spot of the incident.

The blast was so powerful that the bus was damaged badly and all 40 pilgrims and four policemen, who were escorting the passenger bus in their van, were hit.

Reports suggested thatunidentified terrorists had parked a car loaded with explosives at Hazar Gunji. As the bus carrying the pilgrims approached the site at around 6:00pm, the explosive device went off with a big bang.

People were seen running here and there in search of safety, eye witnesses said. “Thirteen people were killed and 30 others were injured in the blast,” hospital sources said.

The bodies of the deceased were removed to the morgue of Bolan Medical Complex Hospital for identification. Some of the deceased were identified as Police Constable Fateh Muhammad, Bostan Ali, Ali Husain, Sarwar Ali, Zangal Khan, Ali Zaman, Ghulam Raza, Saleh Muhammad and Qurban Ali. The names of other deceased are yet to be confirmed.

The injured were shifted to the BMC Hospital and later eight of them were shifted to the Civil Hospital, Quetta. Subsequently, seven seriously injured were shifted to the CMH.

Moving scenes were witnessed on the spot and in hospitals, when dozens of relatives of the deceased and injured thronged there.

The police and Frontier Corps (FC) reached the spot and cordoned off the area as officials of the bomb disposal squad examined the type of explosive material. “Over 40-50kgs of explosive material was used in the explosion,” said officials of the bomb disposal squad.

Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani strongly condemned the explosion and expressed deep grief over the killings.

The politico-religious parties — Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), and others — strongly condemned the incident and demanded that the government provide security to the general public or else step down. The HDP gave a shutter down strike call for today (Friday) to condemn the target killings and bomb blasts in Quetta.

APP adds: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf condemned the Quetta blast and directed the authorities concerned to provide the best medical facilities to the injured.

Separately, unidentified armed men gunned down a man in the Saryab area of the provincial capital.

According to the police, the victim, identified as Soomro, was on his way home when armed assailants riding a motorbike opened fire at him in the Custom area, killing him on the spot.