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Friday, January 31, 2014

Spanish cyclist disputes claim that 6 levies men died protecting him in Balochistan

By Web Desk
Published: January 31, 2014

NEW DELHI: Spanish cyclist Federico Javier Colorado Soriano, who narrowly escaped an attack in Mastung, and survived another grenade attack just 12 hours later in the troubled district of Balochistan, has disputed the claim that six levies personnel had died protecting him, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported on Thursday.

Colorado, who spoke to La Vanguardia in the safety of New Delhi, recalled the harrowing events in Balochistan, where he was not allowed to cycle. He told the paper that he was waiting at a check post just 300 meters behind a bus carrying pilgrims, which was attacked with a suicide bomb. His camera was recording at the time and somehow he managed to capture the blast on video. The explosion had killed at least 30 pilgrims and left over 50 injured.

The cyclist said that ever since he crossed the Iran-Pakistan border, he was escorted by various members of the security forces who always transported him in their vehicles. However, he disputed the number of security personnel that he was being escorted by at the time of the attack. “Just after crossing into Pakistan from Iran, I was awarded two escorts, the Balochistan levies.”

Following the bus bomb attack on January 21, he was held in a police station overnight for safety and allowed to travel the following morning. Even after the explosion, Colorado was loaded into a van with only one gunman and a driver, with no following vehicle.

A little after they passed the destroyed bus on the Mastung highway, Colorado’s vehicle came under a bomb and gun attack in which he was injured just above his left temple. Colorado toldLa Vanguardia that the attack happened barely three minutes after they crossed the bus (visible in his video). He adds that contrary to the official version in which the deaths of six and injuries to three levies personnel is claimed, none of the two men accompanying him were injured, nor did he see anyone else die.

In the video, which he has uploaded on to the internet, Colorado can be seen lying on his stomach on the bed of the pickup truck with his cycle, holding the camera with one arm and his injured head with the other. In the video, an armed levies’ guard can be seen standing over Colorado while a second man, possibly the driver, walks around to the back of the vehicle and inquires whether the Spaniard is ok.

To this Colorado tells the driver in Spanish and broken English to keep going.

Later at the hospital in Quetta, one of the guards accompanying Colorado tells an attendant in Urdu that they had just escaped a blast and that four to five levies personnel had been killed, while at least three others were injured.

La Vanguardia further reports that according to Colorado, he was flown to Lahore where he stayed in his room for 36-hours with two ‘agents’ outside his door.

When he contacted his family in Madrid he read the official statement that he was given. But in New Delhi, he uploaded the video and said that he could no longer keep quiet about what had really happened.

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