AT LEAST 64 people were killed in a sectarian attack on a market place in the city of Quetta, Pakistan police said last night.
Intelligence officials said the attack was the work of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim terrorist group, which had claimed responsibility.
Officials said most of the dead were from Pakistan’s Shia minority, which has come under siege from Sunni extremist groups who seem to carry out attacks at will.
“The explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device fitted to a motorcycle,” said Wazir Khan Nasir, deputy inspector general of police in Quetta. He said 180 people were wounded. “This is a continuation of terrorism against Shiites,” he added.
Burned schoolbags and books were strewn around after yesterday’s attack, which happened near the main bazaar, school and computer centre. “I saw many bodies of women and children,” said an eyewitness. “At least a dozen people were burned to death.”
More than 400 Shiite were killed in Pakistan last year, many by assassins or bombs and the perpetrators are almost never caught.
Last month, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi said it carried out a bombing in Quetta that killed nearly 100 people, one of Pakistan’s worst sectarian attacks. Thousands of Shiites protested in several cities after that attack.
Most western intelligence agencies have regarded the Pakistani Taleban and al-Qaeda as the gravest threat to nuclear-armed Pakistan. But Pakistani law enforcement officials say Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has become a formidable force.