QUETTA– A powerful bomb blast believed to be triggered by a suicide bomber left 18 people dead and 30 others injured at Quetta’s Hazarganji vegetable market on Friday morning, police said.
An FC official and two children were also among the dead, authorities confirmed.
DIG Quetta Abdul Razaq Cheema told the media that the blast targeted the Hazara community, and eight Hazara were among the dead.
Thirty others were injured and were undergoing treatment. Four FC personnel were also among the injured, DIG Cheema further informed.
He said the blast, which ripped through 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.
A frequent target, the Hazara are forced to live in two protected enclaves in the city and are given a daily police escort to the market to stock up on supplies.
“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”.
Buildings located nearby were also damaged in the blast, police said earlier.
The injured were being treated at Bolan Medical Complex.
Security forces cordoned off the site of the blast.
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 Imran 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.
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.”
Other leaders who condemned the brutal attack are Balochistan governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, chief minister Mir Jam Kamal Khan and Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar .
SOURCE: GEO NEWS AND AGENCIES