At least 17 people were killed and over 30 injured on Tuesday when Jaffer Express was targeted with a remote-controlled bomb at Sibbi Railway Station. The outlawed United Baloch Army claimed responsibility for the attack. The blast left forty others injured including 19 people who are in critical condition. Six children and one woman were among the dead.
The train, going from Quetta to Rawalpindi, had made a usual stopover at the Sibbi station – the second largest in Balochistan – when the blast occurred.
Rescue teams arrived at the blast site for relief efforts and shifted the dead and injured to nearby hospitals.
According to a private TV cannel the latest blast might be a reaction of Frontier Corps operation in Khuzdar and Kalat districts of the province yesterday in which at least 30 militants were killed.
On the other hand, Balochistan Interior Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan Bugti said that banned outfits seemed to be involved in the bomb attack. He vowed stern action against terrorist elements. He said that the provincial government will take every step for the protection of the lives of the people. He said that the terrorists would be rooted out from province. Emergency and rescue teams reached the site and began shifting the casualties to hospitals for treatment.
Meanwhile, Federal Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq condemned the blast. He said that Balochistan’s 50-year sense of deprivation is a reason behind terrorist attacks. Khawaja Saad Rafique said thirty people had also been injured in the horrific blast.
“There was aggressive patrolling in place at railway tracks after trains were being targeted. This could be a reaction to the FC operation which took place yesterday.” He further said that strict action would be taken against perpetrators of the incident.
Rafique said the same service had been attacked a few days earlier but there were no casualties.
“A few days ago terrorists had fired upon a train when it came out of a tunnel (in Balochistan), but they ran away when security forces responded to firing.
“The train was standing at Sibi railway station where FC and other law enforcement agencies are always alert. We will have to review the security and find out the cracks from where the terrorists slipped and planted the explosives,” he added.
According to ISPR, army jawans reached the scene to intensify relief efforts.
According to initial reports the bomb was planted inside the washroom of bogie no.9 of the Jaffar Express and exploded as it arrived at the Sibi railway station.
Divisional Superintendent Railways Quetta, Mohammad Ashraf said the Jaffar Express had arrived ten minutes ahead of schedule at the Sibi railway station. The blast took place prior to the security clearance of the train.
Mohammad Ashraf said following the blast the fire engulfed an entire bogie resulting in the deaths. He added the fire also spread to three other bogies of the train.
DPO Sibi, Ghullam Abbas Tarar, confirmed that the death toll in Sibi blast had reached 14 with 40 persons injured.
Muhammad Tahir, a police official told a private TV channel over telephone from Sibi that militants targeted the passenger train through an improvised explosive device (IED) at Sibi Railway Station.
“When Pindi bound train reached railway station, there was a huge blast”, he said.
Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said that such incidents would not deter the commitment of government in its fight against terrorism.
Chief Minister Balochistan, Dr. Malik Baloch while strongly condemning the incident directed the health department to enforce and emergency at the Bolan Medical Complex Hospital and Civil Hospital.
Initial reports said there was no surgeon present at the facility which was also facing a shortage of medicines and other resources. Other victims were also shifted to Quetta. The federal and provincial governments ordered a probe into the blast.
Meanwhile President Syed Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, former president Asif Ali Zardari, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed khurshid Shah, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Shairf, Amir Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) Maulana Fazalur Rehman, Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Syed Munawar Hassan, ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, Jamaatud Dawa Amir Professor Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch and other leaders have condemned the attack on Jaffar Express in Sibbi Railway Station.
Chief Minister Balochistan has summoned the report of the incident from IG police Balochistan.
President Syed Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have directed hospital administration to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured people.
In his message the President expressed his deep sympathies with the bereaved families and called upon the concerned to ensure provision of best medical assistance to the injured.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has expressed grief over the loss of precious lives in the explosion.