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Thursday, January 10, 2013

96 killed in Quetta bomb blasts

Muhammad Ejaz Khan
Friday, January 11, 2013
From Print Edition

QUETTA: Thursday, January 10, turned out to be a horrific day for the people of Quetta when the city was rocked by three bombings that killed at least 96 people and injured over 200. The dead included security officials, Edhi volunteers, a TV reporter and a cameraman. The last bombing of the day was the most powerful ever to hit the city.

The first explosion took place at the Bacha Khan Chowk in the afternoon while the other two occured on the crowded Alamdar Road at night.

The deadly twin blasts that rocked Alamdar Road left at least 80 people dead, including a deputy superintendent of police, an SHO, Edhi volunteers, a reporter and cameraman of Samaa TV, while 200 others were injured.

Police said the first blast took place outside a snooker club at the Rehmatullah Chowk, an area inhabited by the Hazara Shia community, at about 8:50pm, which left some 10 people injured. The more powerful second blast took place on the same spot after 20 minutes when a lot of passers-by, media men and police officials had assembled to evacuate the injured of the first blast.

This resulted in the death of as many as 70 people on the spot, most of them from the Hazrara Shia community. DSP Mujahid Hussain, SHO Zafar Ali, Samaa cameraman Imran Sheikh, a reporter of the same channel, Saifur Rehman, and four Edhi volunteers were among those killed. A Geo cameraman Acme Roger received injuries on the face.

All the injured, some of them in a precarious condition, were rushed to different hospitals in the city, where an emergency had been declared. The blasts caused suspension of electricity supply to the area.

“It was the largest ever bomb to have hit the city,” said a senior police official. Police experts said that more than 100 kg of explosives were used in the bomb, a record for troubled Quetta city.

Earlier, the first bomb of the day exploded at a busy shopping area, the Bacha Khan Chowk, killing at least 12 people and wounding 40 others. Hospital sources feared that the death toll might rise, as many injured people were in a critical condition. One Jawan of the Frontier Corps (FC) was among the 12 people who were killed in the blast.

The bomb was planted under a white-coloured car and went off with a big bang at around 3:50pm. “Initial investigations suggest that the blast was caused by a remote controlled bomb, which was planted under a vehicle,” CCPO Quetta Mir Zubair said while talking to newsmen on the spot. The thud of the explosion could be heard several kilometres away. Apparently, the blast targeted a security forces’ vehicle, sources added.

More than 12 vehicles and four motorcycles were badly damaged in the blast. The windowpanes of nearby buildings were smashed. The victims were shifted to the Civil Hospital and CMH.

The police and law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area. “It was a high-powered time device weighing 20 to 25 kilograms and was planted under a car near the Baldia Plaza at Bacha Khan Chowk”, said officials of the bomb disposal squad. The blast created a nine-foot-long and four-foot-deep crater.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Balochistan governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and others strongly condemned the blasts. They expressed deep concern over the deaths of the people.

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