Pakistan: At least 20 people including children were killed and 48 were injured in a deadly blast in Quetta’s Hazarganji market on Friday morning.
The attack claimed the lives of nine Hazara and one Frontier Corps (FC) soldier who was deputed for the community’s security, said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema. The 10 others who lost their lives included shopkeepers, businessmen and citizens working or residing in the area.
Four FC soldiers were among the injured.
DIG Cheema, who was present at the site of the attack, said the blast targeted the Hazara ethnic community.
“The attack took place in a [green grocer’s] shop. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was planted in a gunny sack filled with potatoes. Whether it was timed or remote-controlled, our experts will tell. Right now they are investigating,” DIG Cheema told reporters at the site of the attack.
The attack was condemned by Pakistan’s Prime Minister and other political leaders.
Deeply saddened & have strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Hazarganji market area of Quetta targeting our innocent people. I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the ppl. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 12, 2019
However, Home Minister Ziaullah Langove, who held a press conference later in the day, said that the blast was not targeting “a specific community”.
“Our guess is that no specific community was targeted. Marri Baloch and FC personnel were among those killed as well. The numbers of the Hazara community were just greater,” Langove said.
The Home Minister also described the blast as a suicide attack.
On Friday there were some early unverified claims in some media, including CNN, that the attack has been carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and their spokesperson “Qari Saifullah” claimed responsibility. ITCT Head for South Asia desk Faran Jeffery confirmed to the ITCT Newsdesk that there has been no official claim from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the spokesperson of the Jhangvi al-Alami group is Ali Bin Sufyan, not Qari Saifullah. The CNN story was still not updated at the time of this article’s publication.
Additionally, there were also questionable claims from some local Pakistani journalists that the attack has been carried out as a joint operation by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and a faction of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) called Qari Saifullah Force. Faran Jeffery confirms to ITCT Newsdesk that all the claims mentioned above remain unverified.
On Saturday, Islamic State’s official media formally claimed responsibility for the blast in Quetta, claiming 70 dead and injured in the attack and also confirming that the target was indeed the Hazara community.
Islamic State additionally also released the photo of what it says is the suicide bomber who carried out the attack, which further confirms what was claimed by Home Minister Balochistan that the attack in Quetta was a suicide attack. The suicide bomber was identified by IS as Usman al-Balushi, who appears to be a Pakistani local.
Earlier on Saturday, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) central also released a statement denying any link with the attack in Quetta. TTP accused media of running fake news about TTP and said that its official claims are only released by its official media channels. The TTP statement further called on Pakistani media to stop chasing ratings and report accurate news.
Following the blast, a high-level meeting took place under Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal’s stewardship to review and reinforce security measures.
It was decided in the meeting that the affected families will be given immediate financial assistance and that the provincial government will bear the treatment cost of those injured.
Furthermore, it was decided that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be immediately installed at the Hazarganji market and other public places. Action on terrorists’ hideouts and against their leaders will also be boosted, the caucus affirmed.
This story will be updated in case of new information.