At least two policemen were killed and 12 people, including eight policemen, injured on Sunday when a powerful blast targeted a police van near a luxury hotel in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's troubled southwestern Balochistan province, officials said. "The initial probe showed that the bomb was fitted with a motorbike," Balochistan government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said. He said the blast killed two policemen and wounded eight others.
Shahwani said four passers-by were also wounded in the blast that targeted the police mobile van at Tanzeem Square near Serena Hotel in Quetta. The security agencies have cordoned off the area and launched a manhunt to arrest the culprits, he added.
The injured have been shifted to the city's Civil Hospital, a senior police official said, adding that the windows of nearby buildings were shattered due to the explosion. No group took the responsibility for the blast but the Baloch nationalists are active in the province and often target the security forces. They accuse the federal government of exploiting the natural resources of the province.
Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan has condemned the incident. "Terrorist elements want to ruin the province's peace. [We] will never allow terrorists to succeed in their nefarious plans," he was quoted as saying in a statement. A Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) spokesperson said that the police van was targeted via an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to a motorcycle.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Shehbaz Sharif said that the government must put in place measures to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people. Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is on a visit to Quetta, also condemned the blast and said that the government "must stop appeasing terrorists and implement the National Action Plan." The attack comes more than three months after a powerful bomb exploded in the parking lot of the Serena Hotel, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.
The Chinese ambassador was staying in the hotel but was out at the time of the attack.