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31 dead as suicide bomber targets police convoy in Quetta
By Tariq Butt / Agencies July 26, 2018
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ISLAMABAD: At least 31 people, including five police officials, were killed and 30 others injured in a suicide attack in the Bhosa Mandi area Quetta on a day when the general elections were being held on Wednesday.

The attack targeted the convoy of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema, who remained unhurt in the attack, near a polling station on the Eastern Bypass.

Shoes and charred vehicles littered the blood-smeared road near the polling station in Quetta, as the dead and injured were shuttled to hospital accompanied by distraught loved ones.

Local officials said the bomber was trying to enter the polling station when police intervened and the attacker detonated his explosives.

“Suddenly there was a huge blast. I was flung on the ground and I thought that I was about to die,” madrassa teacher Hafiz Kareem told AFP from his hospital bed.

Dr Wasim Baig, spokesman for the Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta, said the death toll had risen to 31 with 70 injured, including eight in critical condition.

The dead include five policemen and an eight-year-old girl, Baig added.

DIG Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Riaz Notkani confirmed that police official Riaz Notkani was killed in the attack and Station House Officer (SHO) Muhammad Hameed is in critical condition.

Security forces cordoned off the site of the incident. Police confirmed the attack was a suicide blast and Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) said that 18 to 20 kilograms of explosive was used.

However, polling resumed under the supervision of police, Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army in the area after the blast.

Two minors were also among the dead. The injured were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta. Daesh claimed responsibility of the blast.

In a separate incident, a rocket  attack took place at Balochistan National Party-Awami’s electoral camp near Bonistan in Panjgur district. One person was reported injured in the attack.

Police said the suicide bomber) was trying to enter the polling station, and when police tried to stop him he blew himself up. A police vehicle was an apparent target of the blast outside the polling station.

A state of emergency has been declared in Quetta hospitals where injured have been moved.

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk and other senior politicians sent thier condolences to those martyred in the blast.

Mehmood Khan, 18, said he was going to vote when the bomb went off, killing two of his friends.

“Suddenly there was a huge blast and then bodies, blood, cries, dust was everywhere,” said Khan.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group through its official Amaq news agency.

Voters appeared undeterred, returning to polling booths after the dead and injured had been evacuated.

“Bombings keep on happening and life also goes on here, I am voting,” Abdul Razzaq, 50, told AFP.

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