QUETTA  - At least six people were killed and over 50 others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near Balochistan Police chief’s residence in Quetta late on Sunday night.

Security sources said an unidentified bomber struck his explosives-packed vehicle near the residence of IGP, killing six people and wounding over 50 others, including 12 police personnel. Heavy firing and small blasts were also heard after the suicide blast, they added. A police official, reached over telephone, said the explosion flattened the IGP house, but Mushtaq Shukhera escaped the attack.

The bombing was carried out in red zone of Quetta city. The explosion was so powerful that it could be heard in distant neighbourhoods of the city and shattered windowpanes of nearby Governor’s House, Chief Minister’s House, Quetta Press Club and hundreds of shopping centers on Jinnah Road.

Experts of Bomb Disposal Squad said more than 200-kg explosive material was used in the blast that created a deep crater at the blast site. No group claimed the responsibility for the blast till the filing of this report. Sources said a protest rally of Balochistan National Party was passing through the area when the blast hit, prompting a stampede and forcing people to run for a security cover. Police and other law-enforcement agencies rushed and cordoned off the area. Rescuers shifted the dead and the wounded to Civil Hospital Quetta and Combined Military Hospital.

Hospital sources said the dead included a child, two policemen, one passer-by and three paramilitary soldiers. They feared more deaths as some of the injured were stated to be in serious condition.

Mir Zubair Mehmood, who visited the blast site, said law enforcers were also among the dead while a large of injured were civilians. He also said investigation into the blast was in an advanced stage.

The blast caused a disruption in the power supply as nearby power pylons were damaged throwing the area into darkness. Earlier, six rockets were fired into parts of Quetta from unspecified location by unidentified people, triggering scenes of panic in the area.

President Asif Ali Zardari meanwhile strongly condemned the terrorist attack near the residence of Balochistan Police chief Mushtaq Sukhera. The president expressed concern over the attack that killed several innocent and wounded many others, besides causing damages to public and private property.

The president, in a message, expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives and prayed to Allah Almighty to rest the departed souls in peace. He also asked the provincial authorities to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured.

Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso also denounced the suicide attack. The premier directed the provincial government to tighten security measures for protection of life and property of the masses and maintain law and order in the area. Khoso expressed deep grief and shock over the loss of precious lives and directed the authorities to provide best medical treatment to the injured.