Nine individuals, including eight policemen and one civilian, were martyred in a suicide attack on a Balochistan Constabulary van in the Dhadar tehsil of the Kacchi district in Bolan on Monday.
According to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the blast occurred at 10am on the Kambri bridge in the area bordering the Sibi and Kachhi districts.
He said the police van was returning to Quetta from Dhadar, where the Balochistan Constabulary personnel — a department of the provincial police force that provides security at important events and in sensitive areas, including jails — was posted for duty at a Sibi cultural festival.
“The van collided with a motorcycle which was being driven by a suicide bomber. As a result, nine people were martyred, of which one was a civilian,” Sanaullah said, adding that 13 people were injured in the attack.
Three wounded persons, he went on to say, were in critical condition. “We fear the death toll will increase to double digits.”
The minister said no organisation had so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
The photo shows injured officers being moved into a helicopter. — Photo by author
He stated that the injured people had been immediately flown to Quetta via a helicopter and the federal government was closely coordinating with the Balochistan government with regard to the martyred, their compensation and the medical treatment of the wounded.
Earlier, Kachhi Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mahmood Notezai told Dawn.com that an emergency had been imposed at hospitals across Quetta.
He also said that bomb disposal squads and security personnel had arrived at the blast site and cordoned it off to collect evidence.
‘No cuts in resources provided to LEAs’
Sanaullah asserted that law enforcement agencies, including the police and counter-terrorism departments, were working in synergy to eliminate terrorism from the country.
“I also want to bring this on record that despite the prevailing economic situation […] and that austerity measures are being employed everywhere […] no cut has been made in the resources being provided to law enforcement agencies to maintain peace,” he said.
Sanaullah assured that all the promises made in the apex committee, which was attended by all the provincial and federal governments, were being fulfilled on a priority basis.
“With the resolute resolve of the nation, we will soon control this new wave of terrorism,” the minister promised.
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo condemned the attack and expressed grief at the number of casualties.
He said terrorist elements wanted to accomplish their wicked aims through cowardly actions, adding that they were conspiring to keep Balochistan under-developed by creating unrest and instability in the province.
“All such conspiracies will be made unsuccessful with the public’s support,” the chief minister vowed in a statement.
Bizenjo conveyed his sympathies to the families of the martyred, asserting that they were national heroes. “The sacrifices of the martyred will not go to waste,” he promised.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident as well and paid tribute to the valour of the martyred policemen, APP quoted the premier’s press release as saying.
He said terrorism in Balochistan was part of a nefarious design to create instability in the country and promised to free the country from the menace of terrorism.
Later in a tweet, he said that the policemen who were martyred in Bolan today were “heroes of the nation” and prayed for the bereaved families.
Also, Sanaullah expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the attack.
He paid tribute to the martyrs and sought a report from the authorities concerned about the incident.
Surge in terrorism
Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.
Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the outlawed TTP.
According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), an Islamabad-based think-tank, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.