Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Bombing in Pakistan's Quetta city kills at least 16

Many of the victims are from Hazara minority that has been targeted regularly by extremists

Members of a bomb disposal unit survey the site of a blast at a market in Quetta, Pakistan on April 12, 2019. Reuters
Members of a bomb disposal unit survey the site of a blast at a market in Quetta, Pakistan on April 12, 2019. Reuters

At least 16 people were killed in a powerful bomb blast in Quetta on Friday morning, many of them from Pakistan's Hazara community.

The bombing took place at an open-air fruit market near a residential area where the Shiite minority live, according Abdur Razzaq Cheema, a senior police officer in the south-western city.

He said another 15 people were injured, with some in critical condition.

"Emergency has been declared at hospitals and it seems people from the Hazara community were the target," Mr Cheema said.

He said at least eight Shiites were among the dead. One paramilitary soldier and seven other people were also killed in the bombing, he said. TV footage showed several damaged shops and at least one vehicle of paramilitary security forces.

A local police official who was posted at the Hazarganji fruit market and survived the explosion said the area had been packed at the time of the blast early in the morning.

During the early hours trucks arrive with produce brought in from outside the city, to be shifted by traders into smaller vehicles and delivered throughout Quetta.

"I was loading a small truck and I heard a huge bang and it seemed as if the earth beneath me had shaken and I fell down," Irfan Khan, one labourer in his early 20s, told AFP from a hospital in Quetta, where he was receiving treatment for minor injuries.

"The atmosphere was filled with black smoke and I could not see anything, I could hear people screaming for help and I was also screaming for help."

He said the air was "filled with the stinging smell of burnt human flesh". He lost consciousness, and awoke in hospital.

His injuries include shrapnel from ball bearings and pieces of metal, "but the doctors say I should be discharged very soon", he said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but outlawed Sunni extremist groups have claimed similar attacks in the past. The extremists view Shiites as apostates deserving of death.

Jam Kamal Khan, the chief minister of Balochistan province, condemned the bombing, saying "the enemy of humanity is behind this act of terrorism."

Quetta is the capital of Balochistan, where separatists are waging a low-level insurgency to demand more autonomy and a greater share in the region's natural resources such as gas and oil.

Updated: April 12, 2019 10:02 AM