Saturday, September 04, 2010
55 killed in Quetta rally attack
* Over 200 injured as bomber targets Al-Quds rally
* Police blames rally participants for diverging from set route
* Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claims responsibility
By Mohammad Zafar
QUETTA: At least 55 people lost their lives, while over 200 others were injured
on Friday after a suicide bomber blew himself up amidst participants of a rally
held to mark the Al-Quds Day in Quetta.
The deadly blast triggered chaos and panic in the provincial metropolis's busy
Calling from an undisclosed location, a spokesman of the banned
Lashkaar-e-Janghvi, claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that the
group would "carry out more attacks if Shias continue to take out processions
and hold gatherings".
According to eyewitnesses, a group of armed men started indiscriminate firing
after the blast, injuring dozens of people.
The Imamia Students' Organisation had organised the rally that started from
Islam Imambargah, located on the Prince Road, soon after the Friday prayers to
express solidarity with the Palestinian people. Hundreds of people joined the
rally as it moved towards the centre of the city.
"Police tried to stop the rally near Mali Bagh and asked the participants not
to proceed any further, owing to security concerns. However, nobody listened to
us," said City police Station House Officer (SHO) Muhammad Asif, adding that
the participants did not follow the route that had been approved by the police.
"We had earlier told them that no officers were deployed in Mezan Chowk and
they should follow the given route. But they did not follow the instructions,"
A number of young men, who were at the head of the procession, removed police
barricades and continued to march forward. When the procession reached Mezan
Chowk, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest.
As result of the huge blast, 25 people were killed instantly, and human limbs
were scattered everywhere. A number of motorcycles parked nearby caught fire,
sending up plumes of black smoke.
According to the Bomb Disposal Squad, 10 to 15 kilogrammes of explosive
material was used in the blast.
Talking to reporters, Provincial Police Officer Malik Muhammad Iqbal claimed
that the police had tried to warn the participants and their refusal to listen
to the police caused the incidence.
Police later found the head of the suspected suicide bomber, who was said to be
between 25 to 30 years of age.
An employee of a private TV channel was also among the dead, while eight other
journalists also sustained injuries. All of them were covering the rally when
the blast took place.
Attack condemned: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza
Gilani both have strongly condemned the attack. In separate messages, both the
leaders stressed that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes were the enemies
of the country and would not be spared.
The Balochistan Shia Conference and the Tahaffuz Azadari Council have announced
a 40-day mourning period.
In a statement, both groups have strongly criticised the government and the
police for failing to protect the rally participants.
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