Islamabad: At least 20 people were killed and 48 injured in a blast believed to be targeting members of the Hazara community in Quetta’s Hazarganji market on Friday morning.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema, who was present at the site of the attack, said the blast targeted the Hazara ethnic community, but Home Minister Ziaullah Langove ─ who later confirmed the death toll ─ said that the blast was not targeting Hazaras.
“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 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.
However, Langove at a later press conference described the blast as a suicide attack.
Eight of those killed were Hazara. At least one Frontier Corps soldier deputed for their security was also martyred in the attack, DIG Cheema said. Others who lost their lives included shopkeepers, businessmen and citizens working or residing in the area.
Four FC soldiers were among the injured.
“We are giving our attention to the wounded at this time,” he said. The injured have been shifted to hospitals ─ where an emergency has been imposed ─ for treatment.
“We have arranged transportation back [home] for Hazaras who remained unhurt in the attack,” he added.
Qadir Nayil, a Hazara community leader, asked the government for provision of better protection.
“Once again our people were the target and once again we will have to bury our dear ones,” he said.
“We demand more security from the government and all those involved in today’s act of terrorism should be found and punished.”
The Hazarganji area in Quetta has been witness to similar attacks in the past. Hazara shopkeepers are known to stock vegetables and fruits from the Hazarganji bazaar to sell at their own shops. They are provided a security escort to and from Hazarganji since they are constantly under threat of attack.