BOMB ATTACKS KILLED 92 people in Pakistan’s city of Quetta today.
After an earlier attack, during which 11 people lost their lives, twin suicide bombers targeted a snooker hall in the deadliest single attack in the country for nearly two years.
At least 81 people were killed and 121 wounded when the bombers blew themselves up at the crowded club in an area of the southwestern city dominated by members of the Shiite Muslim community, a senior police officer said.
It was one of the worst single attacks ever on the minority community, which account for around 20 per cent of Pakistan’s 180-million strong population.
It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since twin suicide bombers killed 98 people outside a police training centre in the northwestern town of Shabqadar on 13 May 2011 – shortly after US troops killed Osama bin Laden.
The double suicide blasts came hours after a bomb ripped through a security forces’ vehicle in a crowded part of the city, killing 11 people and wounding dozens more.
Pakistani volunteers rush an injured victim from a bomb blast to a local hospital for treatment in Quetta. (Image: Arshad Butt/AP/Press Association Images)
At the snooker club the first suicide bomber struck inside the building, then 10 minutes later an attacker in a car outside blew himself up as police, media workers and rescue teams rushed to the site, said officer Mir Zubair Mehmood.
“The death toll has risen to 81 so far,” senior police official Mir Zubair Mehmood told a news conference, putting the number of wounded at 121.
“Both (attacks) were (carried out by) suicide bombers and the death toll could rise further,” he added.
Mehmood said the dead also included nine police personnel and a local television camera man. Several rescue workers were also killed in the attacks, he said.
According to the US-based Human Rights Watch, 2012 was the deadliest year on record for Shiites in Pakistan.
The organisation late Thursday called the government’s failure to protect the community, which account for around 20 percent of the population, “reprehensible and amounts to complicity in the barbaric slaughter of Pakistani citizens”.
People were seen wailing and crying beside the bodies lying on the ground, an AFP photographer said.
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier and local residents gather at the site of bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan. (Image: Arshad Butt/AP/Press Association Images)
The bombings damaged several shops and nearby buildings. At least four vehicles of local ambulance service were destroyed. The blast site was also littered with the belongings of the victims.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Quetta has been a flashpoint for attacks against Shiites, in particular those from the ethnic Hazara minority, as well as suffering from attacks linked to a separatist insurgency and Islamist militancy.
Police said the attacks disrupted power supplies and plunged the area into darkness that hampered rescue work.
Quetta is the capital of the province of Baluchistan, one of the most deprived parts of Pakistan but rich in natural gas and mineral deposits on the Afghan and Iranian borders.
In the earlier attack bombers had targeted Frontier Corps personnel, planting their device underneath an FC vehicle, a senior police investigator said.
“At least one FC personnel was killed and 10 others wounded, two of them seriously,” FC spokesman Murtaza Baig told AFP.
Bomb disposal official Abdul Razzaq said the bomb, packed with 20 to 25 kilograms of explosives, was detonated by remote control.
“I went out of my shop and saw a thick cloud of dust. I was very scared and saw people screaming in panic. There were dead bodies and injured people shouting for help,” said Allah Dad, a local shopkeeper.