QUETTA - A suicide car-bomb attack targeting a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims killed two people and wounded 26 in Quetta outskirts on Wednesday.
Women and children included the victims of the attack that took place in Akhtarabad, near the capital of Balochistan which borders Iran and Afghanistan. The bus carrying 50 passengers was coming from Iran to Quetta.
Four policemen in a van escorting the bus were also injured. However, the police officials escorting the bus rescued the passengers from the bus wreckage before it caught fire, Quetta city police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema said.
Police, Frontier Corps (FC) and rescue teams rushed to the site shortly after the incident and cordoned off the area. The dead and injured were shifted to the Bolan Medical Complex and Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Quetta.
The Bomb Disposal Squad declared it a suicide attack and local administration have imposed emergency in all key hospitals of the city. “About 80-100 kilograms of explosive was used in the bomb and it is surmised that a suicide-car-bomber rammed into the fateful bus and blew it up”, a BDS official told media.
Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti, Provincial Minister for Information and Parliamentary Affaris Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal strongly condemned the attack.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also strongly condemned attack. In his condolence message he said the perpetrators of such heinous crimes were doing no service to Islam and the country, and reiterated the government’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from the country to establish durable peace. He expressed his sympathies with the families of the victims, prayed for the departed souls and for early recovery of those injured in the tragic incident.
After blast, some unidentified culprits opened aerial fire at the scene and created harassment in the area while the bus burnt completely to ashes. Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the attack but there has been a rise in sectarian violence in Pakistan after several deadly clashes between Sunni and Shia groups near Islamabad in November last year.
Oil and gas-rich Balochistan has been badly hit by a decade-long Baloch insurgency and sectarian violence, mainly targeting Shias from the Hazara ethnic community. Two huge bomb attacks in Quetta in January and February last year targeting Shias from the Hazara ethnic community killed nearly 200 people. Baloch rebels have also been fighting since 2004 for political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region’s natural oil, gas and mineral resources.