RAHIM YAR KHAN – A bomb blast ripped through a Chehlum procession in Khanpur, 46 km from here on Sunday, killing at least 18 marchers and wounding 50 others.
A remote-controlled bomb blast hit the Shia mourners when they were passing through Shahi road near the city police station. There was confusion over the cause of the blast. Initially, police said the blast occurred when a flag (Alam) carried by some mourners touched high tension wires. But the nearby transformer was not affected although an electric poll fell on the ground. But later, DPO Sohail Zafar Chattha told the mediapersons that evidence suggested that it was a remote-controlled bomb blast. “A remote-controlled bomb was planted near an electric pole and it was set off as the procession approached,” said Chattha.
Officials said 18 people were killed and 50 others injured in the explosion. The wounded were shifted to tehsil headquarters hospital. However, more than 20 seriously injured persons were shifted to Sheikh Zayed Medical College Hospital.
The angry mourners attacked some shops and police vehicles. They also ransacked DPO office and city police station. Failing to control the situation, the administration called Rangers personnel. “The Rangers officials have reached Khanpur and now the situation is under control,” Colonel Farhat, in-charge of Cholistan Rangers, said.
Agencies add: “There was a loud explosion a few yards from the procession and we all scrambled to get away,” said Imran Iqbal, one of the members of the procession. “Debris was everywhere, and a cloud of dust engulfed us. Many people died on the spot.”
The TV news channels broadcast footage of several dead and bloodied bodies lying on the ground. Pictures showed a cloud of grey smoke rising in the sky with people beating their chests and heads and crying for help.
No group has claimed immediate responsibility for the carnage. But fingers are pointed at extremists who often attack Shias.
More than 4,000 people have died in outbreaks of sectarian violence since the late 1980s in Pakistan.
On September 20, gunmen killed 26 Shia pilgrims after ordering them off their bus in Mastung, a district 50 kilometres south of Quetta.
It was the deadliest attack on Shias since September 4, 2010, when a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a rally, also in Quetta.
Gunmen then killed another three Shias on the outskirts of the city who were going to collect relatives who died in the first incident.