At least 63 people were killed and 180 others injured in a blast that once again targeted the Hazara Shia community of Quetta on Saturday evening. The death toll was expected to rise as many of the injured were in a critical condition and police feared more people could be buried under the debris which was not cleared till late in the night.
The blast took place near a school in the Kariani Road area of the city near Hazara Town. Preliminary investigations suggest that about 800 to 1,000 kg of explosives was packed in a tanker trolley ferrying a water tanker. Police remained non-committal on how the explosive was triggered. The area police declared it a sectarian attack as the Shia community was the target.
The dead and injured included a number of women and children out in the marketplace for regular weekend shopping. Fearing a repeat of the January 10 serial blasts in Quetta in which nearly 90 Hazara Shias were killed in a day, the police cordoned off the area immediately and did not allow access to even the media. In January, several media personnel and rescue workers were injured in a second blast that targeted the scene of the first explosion.
No organisation claimed responsibility for the attack till late in the night. The Hazara Shias – who stand out because of their Mongloid features – have been the victim of sectarian violence in Quetta for a while now. They were pulled out of buses and shot down, and targeted in bomb blasts; forcing many in the community to leave the country.
Last month’s attack brought the Hazara Shia community out on the streets in sub-zero temperatures to protest the “genocide.”