QUETTA: At least 15 people have been martyred and dozens wounded – some of them critically – in a bomb attack on a military truck in a high-security neighbourhood of Quetta on Saturday night.
The bomb went off at the busy Pishin Stop triggering a fire on several vehicles parked nearby. The military’s media wing, the ISPR, confirmed 15 shaheed, including seven civilians, and 25 injured, among them 15 civilians. “Incendiary explosives were used in the attack,” it added.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti also confirmed that a military truck was the target. He said it was not immediately clear if it was a suicide blast or a remotely controlled explosive device.
The casualties have been shifted to the city’s hospitals where a state of emergency has already been declared. Medics say some of the injured have life-threatening wounds, while the bodies of the dead are charred beyond recognition.
According to the ISPR, army troops threw a security cordon around the area as fire engines reached the site to douse the blaze on the vehicles.
Police were not sure about the nature of the explosion before the bomb disposal squad was called in.
Windows of buildings in the neighbourhood have been shattered by the thud of the blast. Pishin Stop is a busy area which is dotted with hotels, restaurants and shops.
It is also a high-security zone which houses several important buildings, including FC Headquarters, Balochistan Assembly, Chief Minister House, Governor House and Balochistan High Court.
Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the terrorist attack on the army truck in Quetta which he called “an attempt to mar Independence Day festivity” in the country.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the Quetta bombing and directed the authorities concerned to provide best medical treatment to the injured.
“We will continue to work to eliminate the menace of terrorism from our country,” he said in a statement releases by his office.
Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who led a massive rally into Lahore after travelling from Islamabad for three days, also denounced the Quetta blast in his speech to a huge crowd.
He offered condolences to the families of the victims. However, opposition politicians hit out at Sharif for mobilising the entire state machinery for the security of his rally.