Twenty-five police officers are injured and at least four people are being reported dead when a Balochistan Constabulary truck transporting them for polio duty was targeted in Quetta’s Baleli on Wednesday. The administration beefed up the security in the city and surrounding areas. The affected was opened for traffic by the police after collecting evidence.
“A policeman is among two martyred in the blast,” Quetta DIG Azfar Mahesar told reporters during a visit to the site of the blast. “The rickshaw, carrying the suicide bomber, hit the truck.” He added that the truck fell into the ditch after the explosion.
The deceased were identified as ASI Muhammad Ibrahim, Zainab, and a minor. The funeral prayers of the martyred policeman were offered on Wednesday.
The grieved family, comprising Zafar, Zainab, and three children, was travelling to Lahore to attend an event. Bodies of the women and the minor have been handed over to the heirs of the family.
Mahesar confirmed that it was a suicide blast and the police were on duty to guard a police vaccination team. The vehicles of the polio team were about to pass through the route.
The outlawed group, TTP, has claimed the responsibility for the suicide bombing in Balochistan, Reuters reported. The TTP announced on Monday that they have called off a shaky ceasefire agreed with the government in June and ordered fighters to stage attacks across the country. This is the second attack this month claimed by the banned outfit.
The sub-national polio vaccination campaign started on Monday. Six districts of Balochistan will be covered in the five-day immunisation drive. However, it was suspended till further notice in Lakki Marwat in view of the security situation where police and the security forces were conducting operations against militants.
The total number of injured is being reported as 28. All the casualties have been shifted to the Civil Hospital. Some of them are reported to be in critical condition. The wounded persons include five civilians.
Emergency has been declared in all government hospitals and the medical staff has been called in.
The police said that the truck caught fire after the blast. Rescue and police teams have rushed to the site. The bomb disposal squad has been called in.
The bomb disposal squad and the Counter Terrorism Department said that a suicide bomber in a vehicle detonated as he hit the fuel tank of the truck. Initial reports said that the bomber was in a rickshaw. Around eight to ten kilogramme of explosives material was used in the blast, it said, adding that ball bearings, nut bolts, and steel nails were found at the site of the blast.
The explosion damaged surrounding vehicles.
Three vehicles have been hit by the blast. He was of the view that 20 to 25 kilogramme of explosive device was used in the blast.
Body parts of the suicide bomber were recovered from the explosion site and sent to the forensic lab for further examination, the police said.
Pakistan has reported 20 cases of Polio since April 2022 and all belong to South Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while positive environmental samples have also been reported from all provinces.
No polio case has been reported in Sindh over the last 30 months.
The last polio case was reported on July 14 in Jacobabad and in Karachi on June 9 2020 from Landhi, District Malir, and has had continuous negative environment samples for the past one year except one in August 2022 from Landhi, district Malir.
After the case was reported (April 2022) from North Waziristan, Sindh increased vigilance over entry and exit points at the provincial borders and vaccinated 128,0495 children out of 30,937 belonging to the south KP district.
‘Militants will fail in designs to stop vaccination drive’
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has strongly condemned the explosion and called for an investigation into the incident, Radio Pakistan reported.
He also directed officials to provide the best possible medical treatment to those injured. PM Shehbaz expressed grief and sorrow over the death of police personnel and a child in the incident.
“Polio workers are fulfilling their responsibility without caring about their lives to eliminate this deadly disease from the country. For this, we pay tributes to their services,” he said, “The militant elements will always fail in their designs to stop the anti-polio campaign.”
He added that eliminating the polio virus from the country was among the priorities of the government. “The government will not rest until complete eradication of polio.”
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also condemned the incident, the state-run news outlet reported.
In a statement, he said a detailed report has been sought from the Balochistan government regarding the incident. “The nation is proud of the sacrifices rendered by the police personnel.”
List of casualties
- ASI Muhammad Ibrahim
- Two minors
- ASI Muhammad Hussain (Critical condition)
- ASI Qadir Baksh
- ASI Naeem
- ASI Muhammad Hayat
- Constable Ghulam Haider
- Constable Sikander Khan
- Constable Nihal Uddin
- Constable Manzoor Ahmed
- Constable Jumma Khan
- Constable Abdul Khaliq
- Constable Muhammad Siddique
- Constable Muhammad Nawaz
- Constable Fahim Khan
- Constable Ameer Bakhsh
- Constable Haroon Nisar
- Constable Behram Khan
- Constable Ziaur Rehman
- Constable Muhammad Hanif
- Constable Shehbaz
- Constable Jameel Ahmed
- Constable Gul Jaan
- Constable Rahim Akram
- Constable Muhammad Asghar
- Tota Khan
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.