Baluch insurgents behind Quetta blast; 15 killed



Baluch insurgents behind Quetta blast; 15 killed Islamabad: At least 15 people, including women and children were killed and another 36 injured on Friday when a powerful car bomb went off outside the home of the son of a prominent politician in Quetta city of southwest Pakistan, police said.

The Baluch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack according to a message sent to a local news agency. "BLA Fidaeen was in an explosive laden car that he struck the residence of Shafeeq Mengal. It was the first suicide attack carried out by BLA," the news agency quoted BLA Spokesperson Merik Baloch as saying.

The blast ripped through the residence of Shafeeq Mengal, son of former Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Muhammad Naseer Mengal.

The explosion in a residential area near Arbab Karam Khan Road was heard from several kilometres away.

Eight persons were killed instantly and five more succumbed to their injuries in hospital. About 36 others, including children, were injured.

The wounded were taken to several nearby hospitals. Officials described the condition of six of the injured as very critical.

Shafeeq Mengal, his father and his family escaped unhurt though some of his bodyguards were injured, Deputy Inspector General of Police (operations) Nazir Kurd told reporters. Shafeeq was the target of the attack and preliminary investigations showed a bomb with over 40 kg of explosives was planted in the car, Kurd said.

The car bomb was detonated an hour after Shafeeq returned home from Khuzdar district, Kurd said.

Police officials said another bomb was planted in a vehicle parked in the same area but it did not explode. The bomb disposal squad later defused it.

The blast caused severe damage to about a dozen cars, buildings and shops and blew out the windows of nearby structures. It also triggered a blaze that was later extinguished by fire fighters.

Footage on television showed ambulances taking the injured, their clothes spattered with blood, to hospital. Security forces cordoned off the area as thick black smoke was seen rising from a building.

Rescue workers shifted the dead bodies and injured to Provincial Sandeman Hospital where state of emergency had already been declared in order to cope with situation developed aftermath of the explosion.

Kurd confirmed that 13 dead bodies had including women and children who were in the vicinity when the explosion took place had been shifted to hospital and said the death toll to rise further as some of those injured were in critical condition.

Mengal had reached his residence an hour before the blast from his ancestral town in Wadh. Police personnel recovered two homemade bombs from the spot and managed to deactivate it. Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary troops Frontier Corps (FC) reached the spot and set up a security perimeter in the area.

Quetta Police Chief Eshan Mehboob said Shafeeq Mengal and his family were unhurt in the blast.

Mir Muhammad Naseer Mengal had also served as a federal minister and was a member of the Senate or upper house of Parliament during 2003-09.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack.

In a message, Gilani said such cowardly acts of terrorism would not weaken the resolve of the nation to defeat terrorism and extremism.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered an inquiry into the attack.

PTI