Thursday June 13, 2024

20 martyred,48 hurt in Quetta suicide attack

By Newsdesk
April 13, 2019

QUETTA: At least 20 people lost their lives on Friday and 48 were left wounded—including four security forces personnel—when a powerful suicide blast ripped through a crowded vegetable market in Quetta, officials said.

Body parts littered the scene and injured people screamed for help as black smoke cloaked the market after the explosion. A faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the attack. The group said it collaborated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), in the attack that appeared to target the Hazara ethnic minority. There was no immediate confirmation from LeJ.

Balochistan Home Minister Zia Ullah Langau gave the toll and confirmed it was a suicide blast, adding that two of the dead were children. He said Pakistan’s enemies were trying to destabilise peace, adding the security forces were ready to protect people’s lives and property in the province.

Provincial police chief Mohsin Butt said eight Hazara were among the victims. The bomb detonated near a site where produce was being loaded for distribution around the market. Senior police official Abdul Razaq Cheema said the blast targeted the Hazarganji neighbourhood of Quetta. Hazara make up roughly 500,000 of the city’s 2.3 million people.

Langau, however, said the martyred belonged to the Hazara, Baloch, Marri and Pashtoon ethnicities and no specific community appeared to be the targets. He also assured reporters that efforts were under way to arrest the culprits, while security had been further stepped up across the province.

Survivors described the chaotic scenes of the carnage. “I was loading a small truck and I heard a huge bang and it seemed as if the earth beneath me had shaken and I fell down,” said Irfan Khan, a labourer, from his hospital bed. “The atmosphere was filled with black smoke and I could not see anything, I could hear people screaming for help and I was also screaming for help.” He said the air was “filled with the stinging smell of burnt human flesh”.

The carnage was roundly condemned by the political leadership. Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the attack and ordered an immediate inquiry. Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and President Arif Alvi expressed their disgust. Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif also sent messages of support and sympathy.

US Ambassador to Pakistan Paul W Jones also issued a strong condemnation of the attack. “We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on a market in Quetta. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” the US Embassy in Islamabad Twitter account posted. Amnesty International said the blast was a “painful reminder” of the many attacks suffered by the Hazara community in Quetta over the years, and called for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government to give them better protection. “Each time, there are promises that more will be done to protect them, and each time those promises have failed to materialize,” wrote Omar Waraich, Amnesty’s deputy director for South Asia.