Pak: 64, including school children, killed in Quetta blast
Police said the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device fitted to a motorcycle and most of the victims were Shi'ites.
Quetta: Sixty-four people including school children died on Saturday in a bomb attack carried out by extremists from Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority, police said. A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni group, claimed responsibility for the bomb in Quetta, which caused casualties in the town's main bazaar, a school and a computer centre. Police said most of the victims were Shi'ites. Burned school bags and books were strewn around.
"The explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device fitted to a motorcycle," said Wazir Khan Nasir, deputy inspector general of police in Quetta. "This is a continuation of terrorism against Shi'ites."
"I saw many bodies of women and children," said an eyewitness at a hospital. "At least a dozen people were burned to death by the blast." Most Western intelligence agencies have regarded the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda as the gravest threat to nuclear-armed Pakistan, a strategic US ally. But Pakistani law enforcement officials say Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has become a formidable force.
In January, the group said it carried out a bombing in Quetta that killed nearly 100 people, one of Pakistan's worst sectarian attacks. Thousands of Shi'ites protested in several cities after that attack. Pakistani intelligence officials say extremist groups, led by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, have escalated their bombings and shootings of Shi'ites to trigger violence that would pave the way for a Sunni theocracy in US-allied Pakistan.
More than 400 Shi'ites were killed in Pakistan, 2012, many by hitmen or bombs, and the perpetrators are almost never caught. Some hardline Shi'ite groups have hit back by killing Sunni clerics. The growing sectarian violence has hurt the credibility of the government, which has already faced criticism ahead of elections due in May for its inability to tackle corruption and economic stagnation.
The schism between Sunnis and Shi'ites developed after the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 when his followers could not agree on a successor. Emotions over the issue are highly potent even today, pushing some countries, including Iraq five years ago, to the brink of civil war. Pakistan is nowhere near that stage but officials worry that Sunni extremist groups have succeeded in dramatically ratcheting up tensions and provoking revenge attacks in their bid to destabilize the country.
- Former Israeli Prime Minister, Nobel Prize Winner Shimon Peres Passes Away
- Erapalli Prasanna Consider R Ashwin Best Spinner in World
- Ashwin, Jadeja Star as India Thump New Zealand in Historic 500th Test
- R Ashwin Becomes Fastest Indian to 200 Test Wickets
- BlackBerry To Stop Making Handsets, Will Outsource Production
- Syrian, Russian Air Strikes Kill 25 Civilians in Syria, Says Human Rights Group
- UN Aid Convoy in Syria Hit by Airstrike; UN Outraged
- Shraddha Kapoor Wanted To Be a Part Of 'Rock On' 8 Years Ago
From Our Network
- RSS slapping cases because I fight for the poor: Rahul Gandhi in Guwahati court over temple row- FirstPost
- After surgical strikes, Mulayam Singh demands Narendra Modi take back Pakistan occupied Kashmir - Pradesh18
- Defamation case: Amid high drama, Court stays arrest warrant against Uma Bharti - Pradesh18