Blast near Quetta polio centre kills 14 in Pakistan

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Quetta, Jan 13: At least 14 people were killed and over 10 injured in an explosion near a polio centre in Quetta’s Satellite Town on Wednesday, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said.

“The blast was apparently carried out by a suicide bomber,” said Bugti, speaking to media after the blast.

Thirteen of the dead are policemen while one of them is an FC official, he said.

Thirteen of the dead are policemen while one of them is an FC official.

“We will not bow down before terrorists,” said Bugti, adding that the blast was an effort to disrupt peace in Balochistan.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police Quetta Syed Imtiaz Shah said seven to eight kilogramme of explosives were used in the blast. He said most of the victims were policemen who laid down their lives to guard polio workers.

The casualties have been shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta, where an emergency has been imposed.

Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti speaks to media after the blast.—DawnNews

Dr Rasheed Jamali, a senior doctor told DawnNews that at least five critically injured victims were shifted to Combined Military Hospital Quetta for treatment.

Eyewitnesses at the site said they heard firing after a loud blast rocked the area. The glass windows of nearby buildings shattered due to intensity of the blast.

Police and rescue workers reached the site soon after the blast, while security forces have cordoned off the area. The nature of the blast is unknown as yet.

Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri while strongly condemning the blast directed police to submit a report about the incident promptly.

“We cannot tolerate the terrorism,” he said in a statement issued to press soon after the explosion.

Polio campaign suspended

Today is the third day of a three-day anti-polio campaign which was launched in Quetta and other districts of Balochistan on Monday. The campaign in Quetta has been suspended following the blast.

The campaign is to target 2.4 million children under the age of five. Over 55,000 children of Afghan refugees are to be immunised under the campaign.

Polio teams were being dispatched from the polio centre targeted today in the blast, security sources said.

Pakistan remains one of only two countries on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) list of polio-endemic countries.

Polio workers have long been targeted in the country due to rumours that the polio immunisation drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. The rumours have made inhabitants of lesser-developed parts of the country more wary of allowing immunisation.

Source: Dawn

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