FC brigadier’s wife, colonel among 28 killed: Suicide blasts rock Quetta
QUETTA: At least 28 people, including an FC Colonel and the wife of the Deputy Inspector General of Frontier Corps, were killed in two suicide attacks outside the official residence of the DIG here on Wednesday morning.
The DIG, Brigadier Farrukh Shahzad, and 16 FC personnel were among 82 people injured in the attacks. There were 13 security personnel and 15 civilians among the dead.
A man claiming to be a spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the bombings in telephone calls made to journalists.
Brig Farrukh Shahzad, who apparently was the target of the attack, was injured. His condition was said to be stable at night.
Two constables of the Balochistan Constabulary, who were on duty at the gate of the Commissioner’s Office, were killed. The victims included a woman, her child and two other members of her family, who were going to a hospital. The woman’s husband and brother were injured, according to her other brother Mohammad Dawood.
The attack took place in a high-security neighbourhood which has several government offices and residences of senior officials.
The Governor’s House, Chief Minister’s House, residences of IG Police and chief secretary are about 500 metres from the bombing area.
“A suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden Pajero detonated the vehicle outside the residence of the DIG of Frontier Corps when he came out of the house to go to his office,” DIG Operations Hamid Shakeel told Dawn.
He said the vehicle of Brig Farrukh Shahzad was hit by splinters and parts of the vehicle. The DIG was injured, but the driver did not stop the vehicle and took the injured officer straight to the Combined Medical Hospital.
But the second vehicle carrying FC personnel caught fire, killing seven personnel on the spot, Mr Shakeel said. About six minutes after the first attack, another suicide bomber blew himself up near the residence of the deputy chief of FC, killing three people on the spot.
“In the second suicide attack, the wife of Brig Farrukh Shahzad and a waiter were killed while Col Khalid Masood and FC Public Relations Officer Murtaza Baig were injured,” Mr Shakeel said.
Col Khalid died in the Civil Hospital while Murtaza Baig was admitted to the CMH. Suicide bombers have earlier been attacking security installations, but this was the first time that the residence and the family of a senior officer was deliberately targeted.
FC sources said that Col Khalid Masood, who was working in the FC headquarters, had come to the residence of the DIG, along with the PRO, to ascertain details about the first attack.
Sources said the second suicide attacker had hurled at least two hand-grenades before blowing himself up. One of the suicide attackers was identified as Ahmed Gul, a 21-year-old Afghan refugee. His ID card was found at the bombing site. He belonged to the province of Kunduz in Afghanistan and, according to address mentioned in the card, he was living in a refugee camp in Peshawar.
Several civilians were also killed and injured in the first blast. A nine-month-old girl who was with her mother in an auto-rickshaw and two other children were among the victims.
“I saw a speeding Pajero coming from the district court side. It first hit my pick-up and later crossed to the other side of the road and hit the FC vehicle,” Daud Khan who was at the place said, adding that he was injured and fell unconscious. His pick-up was badly damaged in the powerful blast. Four auto-rickshaws, five other vehicles and several motorcycles and cycles were destroyed.
The residences of FC DIG and deputy commissioner of Quetta were badly damaged and windowpanes of several nearby houses, districts courts, Quetta Press Club and other buildings were shattered. The mosque of the Commissioner’s Office was also damaged and several nearby houses collapsed.
An official of the bomb disposal squad said at least 50 to 60 kilograms of explosives had been used in the first attack. “A four-foot-deep crater has been created at the site of the bombing,” he said.
Soon after the blasts, police and other security personnel reached the area, retrieved the bodies and took the injured to different hospitals. Hospital sources said the condition of at least 10 of the injured was serious.