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16 killed in Quetta attack on Hazara community

QUETTA: A bomb blast in Quetta’s Hazarganji market on Friday morning killed at least 16 people and injured over two dozen others.

DIG Quetta Abdul Raziq Cheema confirmed that the blast targeted the ethnic Hazara community.

As per reports, the attack took place at the shop of a vegetable vendor. The Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was planted in a gunny sack filled with potatoes.

DIG Cheema said that it is yet to be ascertained whether the blast was timed or remote-controlled.

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.

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.

The attack came after a lull of at least a year in attacks against Hazaras, though there have been isolated shootings.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the blast and sought an inquiry report into the attack, Radio Pakistan reported.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal strongly condemned the attack. He assured that the elements involved in the attack and those leading them would be proceeded against, and directed the provision of the best medical treatment to the wounded.

“People who have an extremist mindset are a menace to society,” the chief minister asserted. “We must foil the conspiracy to disrupt peace.”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb also condemned the attack.