QUETTA: Balochistan witnessed a bloodbath on Wednesday just a day ahead of the general election as two attacks caused the death of at least 28 people and injuries to many others.
The Balochistan chief minister has announced a three-day mourning over the loss of lives, Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said in a presser. He held India responsible for the twin attacks in Balochistan.
In the first attack, at least 16 people were killed and 25 injured after an explosion took place outside an independent candidate’s office in Pishin. The blast took place outside the political office of Asfand Yar Khan Kakar in Khanozai area. Kakar is contesting elections from NA-265 and PB-47 and PB-48.
Speaking to Geo News, Asfand Yar Kakar said the bomb was attached to a motorcycle outside his election office. “Eight of our workers were martyred and more than 18 injured in the explosion when the names of polling agents were being finalised in the election office,” he said.
Kakar himself was in Barshore when the blast happened and was on his way to Khanozai.
The injured people were shifted to the Tehsil Hospital, Khanozai, Medical Superintendent Dr Habib told Geo News. He said most of the injured were in critical condition.
The second blast took place outside the office of JUI-F candidate Maulana Abdul Wassay in Killa Saifullah district in which 12 people were killed and 25 others injured. In the attack, JUI-F leader and candidate for PB-3 Wassay remained unhurt as he was not in the office. Following the explosion, many vehicles caught fire.
Deputy Commissioner Yasar Bazai told Geo News that most of the injured were in critical condition. “The Balochistan government is sending helicopters from Quetta to evacuate the injured,” he added. He said a high alert had been issued across the district. To ascertain the nature of the explosion, a bomb disposal squad team reached the site. The site has been sealed for investigation, he stated.
Talking to Geo, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Akhtar Achakzai said investigations into the nature of the explosion were underway. He said the JUI-F candidate was not at the election office when the blast took place. Security had been beefed up in the area.
Addressing a press conference, Achakzai said the local administration had the authority to call the army, if necessary. The minister said terrorists would not succeed in their objectives adding that the war would continue till the elimination of last terrorist.
“The terrorist state of India has targeted Balochistan through terrorism. We will avenge the martyrs, we will end India’s terrorist agenda. Our war will continue until the end of the last terrorist,” he said.
The minister assured that peaceful elections will be held in Balochistan tomorrow (today). “The people of Balochistan will come out and destroy the ambitions of terrorists,” Achakzai said.
Speaking about the injured, the minister said they would be sent to other cities if they could not be treated in Quetta.
Achakzai said the government will continue to perform its responsibilities despite the tragic incident. He said Caretaker Balochistan Chief Minister Ali Mardan Khan Domki had sought a report from the home department on the explosions. “Such incidents are a conspiracy to sabotage the process of peaceful elections,” he said.
Secretary health Balochistan told Geo News that emergency has been imposed across hospitals in Quetta and additional staff had also been called out. He said operation theatres were ready at the Trauma Centre, Civil Hospital, BMC, Benazir and Sheikh Zayed Hospital to treat the injured.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken notice of the blast and sought a report from the Balochistan chief secretary and Inspector General of Police (IGP). A spokesperson for the ECP said directives had been issued to take action against those involved in such incidents.
Condemnations poured in from all sides following the twin blasts.
President Dr Arif Alvi strongly condemned the blasts and expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives. He sympathized with the family members of martyrs and prayed to Allah Almighty for peace and elevation of the ranks of departed souls.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar condemned the loss of precious lives and sought a report from the chief secretary on the incidents. “Every attempt to sabotage the law & order situation will be thwarted,” he said, adding the government was determined to conduct the general elections peacefully.
Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali, in a telephone call with Balochistan governor and chief minister, condemned the explosions.
Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz also condemned the attack in Pishin, expressing deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives. “Evil elements want to defame Pakistan by creating insecurity during elections,” the minister said, adding that those who play with the lives of innocent citizens will be dealt with an iron hand.
Ijaz said the government will take all possible steps to establish peace during the elections.
The Iranian Embassy in Islamabad also strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Balochistan.
“Iran condemns the terrorist attack in Balochistan in the strongest terms. Innocent civilians were martyred and injured in this terrorist attack,” a spokesperson for the Iranian Embassy said.
The spokesperson added that Iran offered its heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Pakistan in this hour of grief.
Meanwhile, the ISIS/Daesh has claimed responsibility for both the attacks, in Killa Saifullah and Pishin.