Pakistan: Deadly explosion rocks Quetta market
In the Pakistani city of Quetta, a deadly explosion killed at least 20 people and wounded another 40 in the latest attack on the minority community of Hazara in Quetta. Zia Langove, the provincial minister said, “Four or five of the wounded are in critical condition”. The Hazaras were buying the vegetables when the explosion took place early morning on Friday. Hazaras are the Shia Muslims and are in minority. They go to the market for shopping every day and are given a security escort daily.
Abdul Razzaq Cheema, the police chief of Quetta said, “They were are the market as police and paramilitary Frontier Corps soldiers patrolled the area. There was a store selling potatoes, and that is where the explosion has taken place”. Various images of the place show the dirt floor sprayed by blood, badly damaged vehicles and even sacks of potatoes also split open by the blast. The police have not been able to verify whether the bomb was planted or was it a suicide attack. Seven members of the Hazara community and one soldier has been killed in the attack. No warning had been issued that the market will be attacked said Cheema although there are many general security threats issued there was no particular threat for this place in particular.
Ever since 2013, as many as 509 Shia Muslims have been killed in highly targeted campaigns of shootings and bombings mainly in the Balochistan province. Majority of those killed are mainly Hazaras. Latter now live in two very heavily guarded enclaves on sides of the city as their movement outside the areas remains limited due to the security threats. Members of the community also refrain from doing business or even seeking education in other parts of the city due to heavy risk to their lives.
The attack on the vegetable market is not the first of its kind. Even in 2017, a few unidentified gunmen had opened fire on a van which was to deliver fruits and vegetables to the market thereby killing the driver and many others. The attacks have been linked to a Sunni political party namely, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat and its partner Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Latter is also a known armed group of the area. The responsibility for the attack has not been claimed by any group so far.