Islamabad: Sixty-nine people, including women and children, were killed and nearly 200 injured when a powerful bomb ripped through a Shia neighbourhood of Quetta city in southwest Pakistan on Sunday, the latest in a string of attacks targeting the minority community. The blast occurred at Kirani Road in Hazara Town, a suburb of Quetta with a large Shia population that has been targeted by terrorists in the past.
A spokesman for the banned extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack. Footage on television showed several buildings were reduced to piles of rubble by the blast that was heard all over Quetta, the capital of the restive Balochistan province.
The area was crowded at the time of the blast. The bomb was hidden in a vehicle and triggered by remote control, DIG Wazir Khan Nasir told reporters.
He said the Shia Hazara community was the target of the attack. The death toll rose to 69 after several bodies were pulled out the rubble of a two-storey building that collapsed.
About 200 injured were taken to three hospitals. Several women and children were among the dead.
Officials said the vehicle with the bomb was parked near the pillar of a building in a market. The building collapsed due to the intensity of the blast.
An estimated 100 kg of explosives was used in the attack, officials said. "The blast was so intense that it razed a two storey building to the ground and they are still some people trapped under the debris which is being cleared in a extensive rescue operation," Quetta's city police chief Mir Zubair said.
Several shops and vehicles were also destroyed. Angry people took to the streets and protested against the attack.
The protesters pelted vehicles with stones and prevented rescue workers and police from approaching the site of the blast for some time. They also blocked roads and fired in the air.