The relentless surge in terrorist attacks across the country over the past fortnight consumed 40 lives over the weekend in two separate incidents. While the bodies of 21 of the 22 Levies personnel abducted on Thursday were recovered on Saturday night, 19 Shias were target killed in Mastung area of Balochistan en route a pilgrimage to Iran. The lone Levies staffer who survived the shooting succumbed to his injuries in hospital on Sunday evening.
So frequent have the attacks become over the past couple of weeks that people seldom have time to absorb news of one attack when another takes place. In a reflection of how much these attacks have become ``business as usual’’ in Pakistan, the cricket match with India in Chennai was trending within hours of the bomb attack in Mastung on most television news channels.
The bomb was placed in a car parked on the route of the buses and triggered with a remote controlled device. The three buses were moving in a convoy and nearly 180 Shias were travelling to Iran when the bomb was detonated. The blast set off a fire in one bus as a result of which most of those killed had burn injuries. Besides those killed, over a score persons were injured in the attack. No organisation claimed responsibility for the blast till evening. This is not the first time buses travelling to and from Iran with mostly Shia pilgrims have been targeted in Mastung which is close to the provincial capital of Quetta.
As for the Levies personnel, their bodies were found in a ditch in Koi Hassan Khel – the very area from where they were kidnapped after three of their checkposts were attacked by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP had claimed responsibility for the attack. According to the police, all 21 had been shot dead while one person survived the shooting. He succumbed to his injuries late Sunday night; several hours after the bodies were recovered in the early hours of the day.
Prior to the discovery of their bodies, the government had sought the help of tribal elders to recover the Levies personnel. The two dominant tribes of the area had also been served an ultimatum; warning of action if the Levies personnel were not recovered by Monday. Consequently, teams had been constituted by the tribals to secure their release and arrange for ransom if the need arose.