Wednesday Jan 13, 2016
QUETTA: A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people close to a polio eradication centre in Quetta on Wednesday, the latest militant attack on the anti-polio campaign in the country.
Most of those killed included policemen detailed to guard polio vaccination workers.
The bomb ripped through a police van that had just arrived at the centre to provide an escort for vaccination workers engaged in a drive to immunise all children under five years old in Balochistan.
Rescue workers and eyewitnesses told Geo News that the blast took place near a police van outside a polio vaccination centre in the area.
"It was a suicide blast, we have gathered evidence from the scene," Ahsan Mehboob, police chief in Balochistan, told Reuters. "The police team had arrived to escort teams for the polio campaign."
Senior police officer, DIG Imtiaz Shah, confirmed the toll from the suicide bombing. “We have found parts of the suicide bombers body from the location of the explosion,” he told Geo News.
The latest attack killed at least 12 policemen, one paramilitary officer and two civilians, and wounded 25 others, officials said.
They estimated the bomb contained about five kilograms of explosives.
The injured were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta, where a state of emergency was declared. The condition of eight of the wounded is said to be critical.
Two police vehicles were also damaged in the explosion.
Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
Teams in Pakistan working to immunise children against the virus are often targeted by Taliban and other militant groups.
The campaign to eradicate the virus in Pakistan has had some recent success, with new cases down last year, but violence against vaccination workers has slowed the effort.