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73 dead, several wounded in multiple blasts in 3 Pakistani cities

Peshawar: Pakistan was in a state of shock after weeks of relative peace as terrorists struck at three cities, killing 73 people and wounding over 100, prompting the army to launch a countrywide crackdown on militants.

A suicide bomber on Friday blew up his explosives-laden car near Inspector General of Police Ehsan Mehboob’s office in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, killing at least 14 people, including seven policemen, and wounding 21 others.

The blast was claimed by both the local affiliate of the Islamic State terror group and by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Hours later, twin blasts tore through a market crowded with the people shopping for Eid in the Shia-dominated Parachinar city in the Kurram tribal region yesterday, killing at least 45 people, mostly Shias, and injuring 75 others.

Banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Sunni militant group linked with the Taliban took responsibility for the attack. The first blast occurred during rush hour in Turi Market, where a bus terminal is also located. The second blast took place as rescuers and bystanders rushed to aid those who had been hurt in the first explosion.

At least 45 people have been killed and 80 others injured in Parachinar, an official from the local administration said. Officials said the blasts on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan targeted people shopping in the area and those heading out of the city ahead of Eid.

Separately in the evening, three militants riding on two motorbikes killed four policemen in a restaurant in Karachi. Police said that a banned group was involved in killing of cops in Karachi but did not identify the attackers.

However, pamphlets found from the spot of attack in Karachi showed that previously little known outfit Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack. It also warned to launch an operation against security forces.

It appears to be in retaliation for Radd-ul Fassad operation launched by security forces earlier this year to eliminate the facilitators of militants.

The Pakistan army launched a countrywide intelligence-led military operation against militants. Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that security has been tightened across the country.

“Special Intelligence-Based Operation (IBOs) and search operations (were) launched in coordination with intelligence and other Law Enforcement Agencies,” he said.

Ghafoor also said that Afghan soil was used to launch the attacks. “Recent terrorist incidents linked to sanctuaries across (the Pak-Afghan border),” he said. Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said “enemy (was) trying to mar festive mood of nation through such coward acts.”

He also said that the enemy would “fail against resilience of Pakistan.” The word “enemy” is reserved for India but sometimes it is also used for those using Afghanistan for anti-Pakistan activities.

The attacks were condemned by all parties. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks, saying that terrorists involved in the attacks will be taken to task and all out efforts will be taken to eliminate terrorism.

On March 31, a car bomb blast near an Imambargah of Shia Muslims killed 23 people and injured 70 others in Parachinar. In January, 25 people were killed and 87 others when a bomb tore through a crowded vegetable market in the same city.

PTI