Quetta - A suicide bomber rammed his car into a police vehicle Wednesday morning in Quetta, killing six police officials and one civilian.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti confirmed the death toll, saying the elite police were targeted as they headed to work during morning rush-hour, at 8:25 am.

The minister said that 21 others were injured in the attack on Sariab Road near Darakhshan Railway Phaatak, while a police official put the number of wounded at 25.

Later in the day, unidentified gunmen shot dead CTD Police Inspector Abdul Salam at Qambrani Road of the provincial capital, said police.

Talking about the Sariab Road attack, Bugti said that a car rammed the police vehicle before catching fire, adding it was “apparently a suicide attack”.

His account of the incident was confirmed by Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema, who said two police trucks carrying 37 Elite Force Jawans were moving from Qasim Line to Police Line when one of those was hit.

The attacked police truck, a nearby tractor and two motorcycles also caught fire after the blast, the bang of which was far and wide in the city.

Soon after explosion, heavy contingents of police and Frontier Constabulary reached at the spot and cordoned off the area.

Rescue teams shifted the dead bodies and wounded to Quetta Civil Hospital (QCH), Bolan Medical Complex (BMC) and Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

Health Minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch condemned the terror attack and placed QCH and BMC under emergency.

“Seven dead bodies and 15 wounded have been brought to the Civil Hospital,” hospital spokesman Dr Waseem Baig said.

He said the bodies were badly burnt, adding that two critically injured victims had been shifted to BMC’s burn ward.

Reports said that 10 of the injured were taken to CMH.

No group had claimed responsibility for the car bombing.

Home Minister Bugti said that Indian and Afghanistan spy agencies may be behind the attack as they have perpetrated such attacks in the past. He expressed the resolve to continue the war against terrorism “till the elimination of the last terrorist”.

Nature of blast

The bomb disposal squad confirmed that it was a suicide hit in which around 100kg explosives material was used.

Director General of Civil Defence Muhammad Aslam said “a leg and some other body parts of the bomber have been found from the location.” He said the bomb was so powerful that they could find only the engine of the car used in the blast.

Home Minister Bugti said that a forensic team was coming from Lahore to investigate and confirm the exact nature of attack, for which the road would remain closed until Thursday.

Security lapse

Acting IGP Muhammad Ayoub Qureshi said the terrorists succeed in hitting one of the two Elite Force trucks despite the fact that a police squad was escorting them, while policemen were also deployed along the way for added security.

He said that they would investigate if there was any security lapse or a loophole in their security system and mend it accordingly.

Security meeting

Following the blast, Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri chaired an emergency meeting on law and order situation which was attended by provincial ministers, Chief Secretary, IGP and DIG.

The meeting received a briefing and decided to revisit the security paradigm in Quetta city in order to prevent such attacks in further. It was also decided that crackdown against terrorists would be sped up.

The CM condemned the car blast as well as the killing of Police Inspector Abdul Salam. The participants prayed peace to the departed souls and wished early recovery to the injured. The CM, along with ministers, also visited CMH and Civil Hospital to enquire after the patients.

Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has oil and gas resources but is afflicted by religious militancy, sectarian violence and a separatist insurgency.

Members of the minority Shia community and security forces are frequently attacked by militants in the province.

On June 23, 13 people including seven policemen were martyred in a suicide explosion in front of Balochistan IGP Office.

On July 11, DPO Qillah Abdullah Sajid Khan Mohmand lost his life in the line of duty when a suicide bomber blew his explosive vest close to his vehicle in the border city of Chaman.

On July 13, SP Quaidabad Mubarak Shah was targeted by two motorcyclists in Quetta.