QUETTA -  At least 15 people, including eight security men, were martyred and 25 others sustained injuries in a suicide attack on a security vehicle near FC headquarters at Pishin Stop on Saturday.

“A suicide bomber on a motorcycle hit an FC vehicle at Pishin Stop,” said the bomb disposal squad’s initial investigation report. It added the bomber used a 20kg to 25kg explosive vest in the attack.

Islamic State group claimed the responsibility for the attack.

“At least seven civilians among 15 were martyred in the attack on a security vehicle in Quetta ,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press release.

ISPR statement said the explosion targeted an on-duty vehicle and set several other vehicles on fire. “Incendiary explosive was used. As a result, nearby vehicles caught fire,” the statement added.

The blast instantly engulfed vehicles, rickshaws and motorcycles at Pishin Stop. It also smashed windows of nearby buildings and houses.

Heavy contingents of Frontier Corps and police reached the scene and cordoned off the area. Rescue teams along with fire brigade also rushed to the spot and shifted the injured to Civil Hospital Quetta . “As many as 13 dead bodies and 30 injured were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta ,” a doctor said.

Health Minister Mir Saleh Baloch placed Quetta Civil Hospital under emergency to efficiently deal with the disaster. Doctors and paramedics were summoned to the hospital while messages for blood donations were also circulated.

Later, eight injured were shifted to Combined Military Hospital in view of their critical condition.

Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti and government spokesman Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar confirmed the death toll, but said number of the wounded was 32. Bugti said firefighters were working to put out the blaze. The home minister visited the blast site. He also reached Quetta Civil Hospital to inquire after the injured.

Pishin Stop, surrounded by FC headquarters, Law College, Heart Hospital and Ayub Stadium, falls into the heart of Quetta city.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa and deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack. The blast occurred two days before Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day.

The army chief said it was an attempt to mar the celebrations. “Our resolve won’t succumb to any challenge,” he said in a statement.

The Islamic State Khorasan Province - the Middle Eastern group's affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan - released a statement claiming the attack, according to the US-based monitoring group SITE. A suicide motorbike bomber was behind the blast, the statement said.

The local affiliate has been known to work with Pakistani militant groups in previous attacks.

 

SHARIF KHAN