QUETTA, April 16 At least 11 people, a cameraman of a private TV channel and four police officers among them, were killed and over 40 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a hospital here on Friday.
A member of the National Assembly, Syed Nasir Ali Shah of the PPP, his son, five TV journalists, a driver of DawnNews and seven police personnel were among the injured.
The bomber struck outside the emergency ward of Sandeman Civil Hospital, where a large number of people, including the MNA, police officers and journalists, gathered after the body of a banker, who was shot dead minutes earlier, was brought to the hospital.
After the suicide attack unknown people started firing, triggering chaos and panic in the city. Shops and markets were closed and traffic and normal life was badly affected.
The banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack. Its spokesman identified the suicide bomber as Haq Nawaz Baloch.
Police said they had found the head of the suicide attacker and announced Rs500,000 for information leading to his whereabouts.
“It was a suicide attack,” DIG (Investigation) Qazi Abdul Wahid told Dawn.
Police found the head and limbs of the bomber and sent them to agency concerned for tests.
Police said that 15kg of explosives had been used in the attack, damaging the hospital`s emergency ward. Its walls were spattered with blood stains and pieces of human flesh. Windowpanes of all nearby wards were shattered.
The cameraman who was killed in the attack was working for Samaa news channel. He was identified as Arif Malik. The others killed were identified as DSP Zahir Shah Kazmi, DSP Ghulam Mohammad, head constable Mohammad Hussain, constable Mohammad Hadi, FIA constable Mujtaba, hospital`s employee Haji Daud, Abdul Khaliq Hazara, Syed Ayub Shah and Yar Mohammad. One body could not be identified.
The deceased banker, Arshad Zaidi, was the son of Ashraf Zaidi, president of the Balochistan Shia Conference. He was shot dead by gunmen riding a car as he stepped out of his bank in Manan Chowk area. Hundreds of people, including the MNA, rushed to the hospital and were protesting against the killing when the blast took place.
“I saw a man who went to the gate of the emergency ward. He blew himself up when a security guard of the MNA tried to push him back,” said Abdul Karim, who was injured in the blast.
“I and other journalists were covering the MNA`s visit when the blast took place,” Noor Elahi Bugti, a reporter of a private news channel, told Dawn.
Emergency was declared in all government hospitals of the city.
Khalil Ahmed (Express News), Noor Elahi (Samaa), Fareedullah (Dunyia News), Sohail Malik (Aaj TV), Salman Ashraf (Geo TV), Wali Mohammad (DawnNews), MNA Nasir Shah and his son Syed Hashim were taken to CHM. Others were taken to different hospitals in the city.
Quetta police chief Shabbir Sheikh told reporters that a team, comprising DIG (Investigation) Qazi Wahid, DIG (Crime Investigation Department) Wazir Khan Nasar and DIG (Operations) Hamid Shkeel, had been formed to investigate the strike.
He said the suicide bomber was an outsider, adding that all efforts would be made to catch the elements behind the attack.
Educational institutions The provincial education department announced that all government and private educational institutions would remain closed on Saturday. However, practical exams will be held on schedule. Traders` organisation has called for a shutter-down strike on Saturday.
The Balochistan Union of Journalists and the Quetta Press Club condemned the attack and killing of the TV cameraman.
Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Balochistan Assembly Speaker Aslam Bhootani and provincial ministers Mir Hamal Kalmati, Habibur Rehman Mohammad Hasni and Nawabzada Jameel Bugti also condemned the attack.
The chief minister directed the authorities concerned to take all steps for safety of citizens and peace and order in the city. He also announced compensation for the victims of the blast.