QUETTA: At least 72 persons, including women and children, were killed and 177 others wounded in a massive explosion here in Hazara Town at Kirani road on Saturday, police said.
Official sources confirmed the number of casualities, and said the explosives were fitted in the hidden cavities of a water tanker which went off at around 5:30pm.
Police said the blast took place in Aliabad bazaar in Hazara Town when people were busy in their routine shopping. This resulted in the death of as many as 65 people on the spot, most of them from the Hazara Shia community. The other persons died after they were shifted to hospital, sources said.
All the injured, some of them in a precarious condition, were rushed to different hospitals in the city, where an emergency had been declared.
A large number of people also rushed to hospitals to inquire about the victims.
The blast caused suspension of the electricity supply to the area.
It was the second largest bomb attack to have hit the city. The Alamdar road blast of January 10, was the largest ever bomb explosion. Police experts said that more than 800kg explosives were used in the bomb.
Police and law enforcement agencies reached the area, but the angry mob did not allow them to reach the spot. Later, Chief Secretary Balochistan Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad directed Inspector General Police Balochistan Tariq Omer Khitab, Commissioner Quetta Kambar Dashti and Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Mir Zubair to reach the spot and supervise the rescue operation. The blast created a 10-foot long and four-foot deep crater, said official sources.
Eyewitnesses told The News that a large amount of smoke rose at the site after the big bang of the explosion which forced the people to run for safety. A man injured in the explosion, Shah Hussain, said he saw nothing but darkness. “When I opened my eyes in the hospital I was being treated.”
Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi in his condolence message expressed deep concern over the Hazara town bomb explosion which claimed the lives of over 65 people. He directed the law enforcement to enhance the security and safety measures in the city. He directed the shifting of all the seriously injured to Karachi’s hospitals for the best medical treatment.
Meanwhile, the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), JUI-F and others strongly condemned the blast. The HDP gave a shutter down strike call for today (Sunday) to protest against the explosion.
Our correspondent/ agencies add: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf have strongly condemned the Quetta blast which resulted in the loss of precious lives and property.
In their separate messages, they directed the concerned authorities to provide the best medical assistance to the injured. They expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and reiterated the resolve of the government to continue its fight against terrorism undeterred till its logical conclusion.
Quaid-e-Millat Jafariya Allama Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi, TNFJ chief Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi and Secretary General Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) Allama Nasir Abbas Jaffery also strongly condemned the blast in Quetta and demanded of the government to arrest the culprits behind the brutal act.
In their separate statements, they said the elements behind such acts should be unmasked. The Shia Ulema Council also announced a three-day mourning throughout the country.