QUETTA: Six people lost their lives while 17 others sustained injuries in a powerful bomb explosion near the venue of a rally arranged by the Awami National Party (ANP) in Kuchlak Bazaar on Friday.
The blast took place at a time when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was about to land in the provincial capital to review measures about the law and order situation there. Confirming the number of deaths, official sources said six people were killed and 17 others, including the provincial president of the ANP Balochistan Aurangzeb Kasi and his wife, were injured in the blast in Kuchlak Bazaar, some 25 kilometres away from the provincial capital.
Reports suggested that the bomb was strapped to a bicycle which was parked near the venue of the rally. “It was a time device tied to a bicycle,” police said.As soon as the proceedings of the rally began at around 9:30am, the explosion took place. Panic gripped the area as aerial firing started after the blast. “Thick black smoke blanketed the scene after the explosion and people were seen running astray in search of safety,” one of the injured, Rashid Nasir, who is a senior leader of the ANP, told The News. The injured were shifted to the Civil Hospital and CMH in private vehicles and Edhi ambulances. Emergency was declared in all the hospitals of Quetta.
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 six to eight kilograms of explosive material was used in the explosion,” said officials of the bomb disposal squad. Two vehicles were also damaged in the explosion.
Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and Chief Minister Aslam Raisani strongly condemned the explosion and expressed deep grief over the killings.
In a news conference in Quetta, Senior Vice President of the ANP Balochistan, Obaidullah Abid, strongly condemned the Kuchlak blast and announced a shutterdown strike for today (Saturday) and three-day mourning. Rejecting the official figures, he said that eight people were killed and 22 wounded in the explosion. He held the police and administration responsible for the incident.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) and others also strongly condemned the incident and endorsed the shutterdown call of the ANP.APP adds from Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the blast during the public meeting of the ANP in Quetta. He expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives of innocent people, including the workers of the ANP. He said that those who were killed in the blast were political workers who believed in a peaceful political struggle.
Central Information Secretary of the ANP Zahid Khan also condemned the blast and demanded a thorough probe. He said the ANP had sacrificed 650 workers in the war against terrorism. However, he added, the fight against the terrorists would continue.