Policeman among at least three killed in Quetta suicide blast

Dozens injured, initial investigation point towards suicide attack

QUETTA: A suicide bomb blast in Quetta’s Baleli area on Wednesday targeted a police patrol, killing three people including a police official, and injured dozens more.

“The bomb blast that targeted a police patrol wounded more than 30 people, including 15 police,” said another police official, Abdul Haq. “Out of them, a policeman, a woman and a child died.”

The patrol had been guarding a polio vaccination team at the time of the suicide blast, he added.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Quetta Azfar Maisar had earlier confirmed that police officials were among the casualties and that at least two dozen were injured in the blast.

“This seems to be a suicide attack,” a security official who declined to be named told The Express Tribune via telephone.

The policemen were reportedly coming from Baleli to Quetta city when they were targeted. Initial investigation suggests a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the police truck.

Police officials also confirmed that another vehicle was damaged in the explosion.

The area was cordoned off and an initial investigation has started. The casualties were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and directed for the best possible medical aid to the injured. He also paid tribute to the martyred police official.

The premier said polio workers are fulfilling their responsibility without caring about their lives to eliminate the deadly disease from the country. For this, he said we pay tributes to their services.

The prime minister also said militant elements will always fail in their designs to stop the anti-polio campaign.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also condemned the suicide attack.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan Chief Minister Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo condemned the explosion, calling it a “cowardly act of terrorism” and expressed grief over the loss of precious lives.

The chief minister has directed for the best possible treatment to be provided to the injured.

TTP calls off ceasefire

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Monday said that they have called off a ceasefire agreed with the federal government in June and ordered its militants to stage terrorist attacks across the country, a statement from the banned terror outfit said.

The government and the TTP had agreed to a truce earlier this year after Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers took a prominent role in brokering peace talks, but negotiations made little progress and there were frequent breaches.

The daily Information Times had reported that the talks reached a deadlock as the terror group refused to budge from its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Fata with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan began talks with the TTP in October last year at the request of the Afghan Taliban to seek a political solution to the issue.

The initial contacts led to a one-month ceasefire between the two sides in November but the truce could not last long as differences emerged soon.

Islamabad fears that if the TTP or its splinter groups join Da’ish, it would multiply Pakistan’s security challenges. Pakistan is also concerned that this scenario will be exploited by external players including India.

Pakistan was hoping that a peace deal with the TTP or its certain breakaway factions would weaken the terrorist network. Also, Pakistan gave peace a chance as the Afghan Taliban were not willing to take any action against the TTP.

According to Pakistani authorities’ assessment, the talks were not progressing well and Pakistan was ready for any eventuality.

The sticking point remained the Fata reforms which the TTP vehemently opposed. Pakistani interlocutors had told the TTP in clear terms that the FATA merger with K-P was the result of bipartisan consensus and it was done through the constitutional amendment.

The military, which was spearheading the talks with TTP, had assured parliament that any peace deal with the terrorist outfit would be strictly in conformity with the Constitution.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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