ISLAMABAD/QUETTA (Dawn): United Baloch Army (UBA) – a separatist militant outfit in Balochistan – has claimed responsibility of the deadly terrorist attack in Sabzi Mandi area of the capital city that killed at least 24 people and wounded more than 115 on Wednesday.
Speaking to media representatives over telephone, spokesman for UBA Mureed Baloch said the rebel Baloch group has carried out the attack in retaliation to military’s ongoing operation in Balochistan’s Kalat district.
“We carried out the attack in Islamabad in response to the military operation against us and we will launch more such attacks in other cities,” he said.
The United Baloch Army had also claimed responsibility of deadly train attack in Sibi yesterday. At least 17 people, two women and four children among them, burned to death and over 45 were injured in a powerful explosion in a carriage of a Rawalpindi-bound train at the Sibi station on Tuesday.
The Frontier Corps (FC) began an operation against insurgents early Monday in the Kalat district, around 300 kilometres southwest of Quetta in which up to 40 insurgents were killed.
More than 160 people have been killed in attacks since the start of the peace process, leading many to question its worth. It is also unclear whether the umbrella Taliban group can control all its factions.
Acting Inspector General of Islamabad police, Khalid Khattak, said that at least two dozen people had died and more than a hundred wounded in today’s early morning explosion in Islamabad’s vegetable market.
Police and rescue teams rushed to the site of the incident after the explosion occurred.
Initial reports suggest that the explosive material was planted inside a box containing fruits.
Police said that a remote controlled bomb containing five kilograms of explosive material was used in the blast.
Police added that boxes containing fruits were brought to the market from the Punjab province.
The blast occurred at a time when labourers and early morning shoppers were busy purchasing fruits.
Police initiated a search operation and cordoned off the area. Moreover, police arrested a ‘suspicious’ person from the location of the blast. Sabzi Mandi is situated in the sector I-11 of the capital city and a kachi abadi of Afghan nationals is also located in the same sector.
Earlier, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Vice Chancellor Prof. Javed Akram said that 31 injured in the blast were given medical treatment in the hospital and the death toll was likely to increase.
Following the attack, emergency had been declared in the hospitals of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Also, Pims hospital made an information desk which would provide information related to dead bodies and the wounded persons.
The attack occurred just prior to the Corps Commanders’ Conference which was held today.
TTP condemns attack
TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid condemned the blast in the capital city, adding that the death of civilians in the attack was regrettable.
The spokesman also denounced yesterday’s bomb explosion inside a train in Sibi which had claimed 17 lives.
Moreover, Shahid said it was possible that some “hidden hands” were involved in the attacks.
Intelligence warned of attacks
The attack came a day before the April 10 ceasefire by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ends.
Intelligence sources had first alerted the police and government officials on April 3, 2014 that possible terrorist attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta were being planned by militants who oppose the peace talks between government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“Law enforcing agencies will be the main target of the terrorists, and in the case of their failure, any other official installation or public place,” one official said.
“TTP will choose the targets and the informal groups under its umbrella will provide support to the Ansarul Hind activists with weapons and other materials,” he added.
Security sources say the scenario looks similar to the terrorist attacks that quickly followed the announcement of a month-long ceasefire by the TTP last month. The most audacious of them was the bomb-and-gun attack on the district courts complex in Islamabad on March 3, which was claimed by Ahrarul Hind group.