20 Killed In Attack On Hazara Community In Quetta
At least 20 people including two children were killed and 48 others sustained injuries in an explosion at Quetta’s Hazarganji market on Friday morning.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema confirmed to Dawn that the attack was aimed at the Hazara community. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was placed inside a sack carrying potatoes. The attack occurred at a greengrocer’s shop.
Reports confirmed that Quetta’s Shia Hazara community was the target and half of the dead among the total were Hazara people. “It is a sectarian violence incident and the target was the Hazara Community,” Deputy Inspector General of Police told the media.
Those who died in the incident included local traders, shopkeepers and one Frontier Corps (provincial security force) soldier. Injured were shifted to local Bolan Medical Complex and Quetta Civil Hospital where their situation is said to be out of danger.
Locals told the journalists that the least number of security arrangements were available in the area. Police, however, said that the traders were asked to install security cameras as it was their own responsibility but ‘they did not act upon the direction’.
The incident comes three days after Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Balochistan leader Ramzan Mengal was released.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan condemned the incident and expressed grief over the incident. They sought a detailed inquiry report on it.
Hazara community has been the target of numerous attacks over the past 9 years. Reports say some 800 members of the community have so far been killed in the violence during the last nine years.
A report released by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) in 2018 stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta during the last five years.
Friday’s incident was the first of 2019’s civilian targeting terror incident in Balochistan. Earlier, on 16 February, armed men killed two Frontier Corps in Loralai and on 17 February, two security personnel of the Frontier Corps were killed in the Gardab area of Panjgur district.
Pakistan Institute of Peace and Study report noted 29 percent decrease in terrorist attack in Pakistan in 2018 as compared to 2017. But it stated that incidents are increasing in Balochistan as the province is target of insurgents and sectarian outfits.
The author is a Lahore based journalist. He writes about religion, politics, culture, agriculture and 1947’s Indo-Pak partition. He can be reached @imiftikharalam