Dozens killed in suicide attack in SW Pakistan

 13 May 2017 - 11:34

Dozens killed in suicide attack in SW Pakistan
File Photo.

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KARACHI, Pakistan: More than 20 people were killed and over 30 injured in a suicide attack targeting the convoy of the deputy chairman of Pakistan's Senate in southwestern Balochistan province on Friday, officials and local media reported.

Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was injured in the attack in Mastung district, police chief Mohammad Ghazanfar told reporters.

"Initial reports suggest that 20 to 25 people have been killed in the blast, which was the act of a suicide bomber," Ghazanfar said.

The bomber, he added, blew up himself near the convoy of Maulana Haideri who was on his way to provincial capital Quetta after attending a graduation ceremony at a women's seminary in Mastung, located some 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Quetta.

The dead included Maulana Haideri’s driver and various security guards.

Haideri, who seemed to be in his senses, told local Dunya TV on the phone that he was being taken to hospital for his injuries.

"It was a huge blast. My wounds are bleeding. Dozens of people have been injured. There are also reports of deaths," said Haideri who is also the secretary general of Jamiat Ulama-e Islam, one of the country's main Islamic parties.

Footage broadcast on Dunya TV showed injured being transported to hospitals, and several vehicles lying damaged in the middle of the road.

The police chief said that several critically injured had been transported to Quetta for better treatment.

The administration, for its part, imposed emergency in all the hospitals in Quetta and Mastung, calling in additional medical staff.

The remote Mastung district has been beset by violence in recent years with several suicide bombings, mainly targeting the Shia pilgrims who use this route to travel to neighboring Iran.

The large Baluchistan province, which is also considered to cover parts of neighboring Iran and Afghanistan, is strategically important because of the rich resources of copper, zinc and natural gas but has been riddled with violence for over six decades, with separatists claiming that it was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan at the end of the British rule in 1947.

The province, especially its capital Quetta, has also been facing a deadly wave of sectarian violence for the past decade. Over 2,000 people --mostly Shia-- have been killed in targeted attacks and suicide bombings in Quetta and other parts of the province in the last ten years.