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Friday Apr 12 2019

Twenty dead, scores injured in blast at Quetta's Hazarganji

QUETTA: Twenty people were killed and dozens injured in a blast that ripped through Quetta's Hazarganji sabzi mandi on Friday morning, authorities said.

Eight Hazara, an FC official and two children were among the dead. At least 48 others, including three security personnel, were injured in the blast, police and provincial authorities said.

DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema told the media that the blast, which shook the Hazarganji sabzi mandi at around 7:35am, was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) that had been hidden among vegetables in the market.

Balochistan Minister for Home Mir Zia Ullah Langau said in a press conference later that initial investigation suggested it was a suicide bombing, and that it did not target any particular community.

He vowed that justice would be delivered and the perpetrators would be taken to their logical conclusion. 

Security officials cordoned off the site of the blast. Photo: AFP

"I was loading a small truck and I heard a huge bang and it seemed as if the earth beneath me had shaken and I fell down," Irfan Khan, a labourer, told AFP from his hospital bed.

"The atmosphere was filled with black smoke and I could not see anything, I could hear people screaming for help and I was also screaming for help."

He said the air was "filled with the stinging smell of burnt human flesh".

Rescue workers at the site of the blast in Quetta's Hazarganji

Buildings located nearby were also damaged in the blast, police said. 

The injured were being treated at Bolan Medical Complex. 

Violence in Pakistan has dropped significantly since the country´s deadliest-ever militant attack, on the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014 that left more than 150 people, most of them children, dead.

PM condemns blast, summons report 

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the blast in Hazarganji and summoned a report on the incident. 

The premier expressed his grief at the loss of innocent lives, and directed the authorities to ensure the best medical treatment for the injured. 

"Deeply saddened & have strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Hazarganji market area of Quetta targeting our innocent people. I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the ppl. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured," PM Imran tweeted. 

President Dr Arif Alvi condemned the blast and expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives. In a statement, he termed it a "heinous act of terrorism which is a reminder for us as nation that few remnants of this menace are still left to be eliminated totally."

Condemning the attack, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry prayed for eternal peace for the departed souls and early recovery of the injured. He said the terrorists wanted to target the process of progress and development by harming peace in the country.

The valiant people of Pakistan have been boldly facing the menace of terrorism and time is not far when terrorists will be completely eliminated from the country, the minister added. 

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif prayed for the departed souls and expressed condolences to the grieving families of the victims. He said the nation and its institutions have rendered great sacrifices to eliminate terrorism from the soil. 

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari wrote on Twitter: "Condemn the terrorist attack in #Quetta. The government must stop dragging its feet & take action to counter violent extremism. Thoughts and prayers with the families of the victims."

US Ambassador to Pakistan Paul W. Jones also issued a strong condemnation of the attack. “We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on a market in Quetta. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families," the US Embassy in Islamabad Twitter account posted.

Balochistan governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, chief minister Mir Jam Kamal Khan and Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar also condemned the attack in the strongest words.