Seven policemen among 14 killed in suicide car bombing in Quetta

Nine policemen said to be among 21 injured; investigations under way

Nadeem Kausar
Salman Ashraf
Shahab Umer

QUETTA: Fourteen people, including seven policemen, were killed and 21 injured in a suicide car bombing near the office of the inspector general of police Balochistan on Gulistan Road early Friday.

The bodies and the 21 people injured in the attack were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta, said hospital officials. 

Civil Defence Director Aslam Tareen, quoting the initial investigation report, revealed that 75 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack, which was said to be the result of a suicide bombing.

Talking to Geo News, Tareen added experts also discovered ball bearings and various kinds of nuts and bolts were used in the blast to inflict maximum damage.

Pakistani security officials inspect the site of a powerful explosion that targeted a police vehicle in Quetta -  Photo AFP 

Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar said the suspected bomber, likely travelling in Toyota Corolla, tried to break a security perimeter to target police offices situated nearby, but blew up after policemen standing guard at the location attempted to stop him.

Kakar added India is using terror as a tool against the people of Pakistan, adding that it [India] is playing an extremely irresponsible role in Balochistan. 

Security officials also confirmed that the blast was the result of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) which exploded after the 'suspicious' driver was spotted by policemen. 

Addressing the media earlier, DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema said they are examining CCTV footage to determine further details about the incident. 

Security forces cordoned off the site of the blast and began investigating after rescue services shifted the injured and deceased to the hospital.

Officials said body parts of the suspected bomber, strewn across the site of the blast, were being collected along with other evidence for forensic examination. 

Later, addressing the media, Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Haripal said it appears the bomber wanted to attack the office of the inspector general police. He said investigations are under way to ascertain more details about the attacker. 

Replying to a question, he said security was tight around city thus the attacker was forced to target police. 

Investigators revealed later that the vehicle bearing a Karachi licence plate used in the bombing and was registered to an individual identified as Jameel.  

Senior government officials, including Inspector General Frontier Corps Major General Nadeem Anjum, also visited the site to oversee the investigation. 

The incident took place near Shuhada Chowk on Gulistan Road, opposite the police chief's office. The area falls under a high security zone, with offices of senior police officials and Police Lines situated there.

Footage of the incident showed two vehicles badly damaged in the explosion, while debris lay scattered on the street. 

Officials said the explosion was loud enough to be heard from a distance and shattered windows of nearby buildings. 

Immediately after the explosion, security of Civil Hospital was tightened with police officers deployed at all entry and exit points of the premises.

Security officials were searching all people entering the hospital. The deputy commissioner also visited the hospital to oversee the arrangements. 

Extra security measures were already in place in the provincial capital, which has witnessed several attacks in the past, in light of Jumma-tul-Wida (today) and Eid-ul-Fitr.

Condemnations pour in

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while condemning the attack, said that terrorists involved in the attack will be taken to task and all out efforts will be taken to eliminate terrorism. Those injured in the incident will be provided with best medical facilities for their treatment, he remarked. 

The nation is resolved to finish the menace of terrorism from the country, he added. 

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the incident and expressed grief at the loss of lives. He demanded a report from the provincial government over the incident. 

President Mamnoon Hussain, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and former President Asif Ali Zardari, among others, condemned the attack and expressed grief over the loss of innocent lives.

Previous attacks in Quetta

Earlier this year, on February 13, a blast took place near the Saryab Bridge in Quetta killing two personnel of the bomb disposal squad and leaving 11 injured.

Later in March, an explosion targeting a security forces convoy occurred on Saryab Road. Four people were injured including three Frontier Corps personnel and a passer-by.

In August, last year, a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Civil Hospital, following the death of the president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, killing at least 70 people and leaving many wounded. 

In October, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry commission under Justice Qazi Faiz Esa to probe into the attack in which majority of those killed were lawyers. 

The ensuing report of the one-man commission criticised the federal and provincial government for its "monumental failure to combat terrorism and perform basic protocols".