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Last Updated: Sun, 17.02.13 8:42

63 killed, 180 injured in sectarian attack in SW Pakistan

At least 63 people were killed and over 180 others injured in sectarian attack, targeting the minority Shia Mulims in Pakistan's southwest city of Quetta on Saturday evening.

Mir Zubair Mehmood, the City Central Police Officer of Quetta said that a powerful bomb, targeting Hazara Community of Shia Muslims ripped through a market area located at Karani road of Quetta, the capital city of the country's southwest Balochistan province, at about 5:30 p.m. (local time).

He said that the explosion killed 63 people including women and kids and injured over 180 others who were shifted to Military hospital of Quetta for medical treatment.

Over 20 injured people are in a critical condition who would be airlifted to the country's southern port city of Karachi by an army plane on Sunday morning for better medical services, said the C.C.P.O.

Revealing the results of initial investigations by the Bomb Disposal Squad, he said that the bomb was detonated by a remote controlled device and the explosive materials were fixed in water tank parked inside the market.

The C.C.P.O said that a two-storey building comprising of over 40 shops was leveled to the ground following the blast and several people were feared buried under the debris.

The spokesperson of Balochistan government announced an official mourning across the province over the mass-killings of Hazara community on Sunday, saying that the national flag would fly at half-mast at all state-owned buildings in Balochistan on the day of mourning.

Wazir Khan, Deputy Inspector General of Quetta Police said that an estimated 800kg to 1000 kg of explosive materials were used in the blast.

He said that the explosion happened in a town where a vast population of Hazara community of Shia Muslims are settled.

The explosion left a 6 feet wide and 12 feet deep crater at the ground.Several houses, shops and vehicles were also destroyed in the blast.

Following the blast, angry Shia protestors cordoned off the area, keeping police, rescue teams and media away from the blast site.

The protestors said that Hazara community was targeted dozens of time in Quetta over the last two years in which hundreds of innocent Shia Muslims lost their lives, but the government failed to provide adequate security to them.

Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen and Hazara Democratic Party, the groups of Shia Muslims in the city announced a three-day-mourning over the incident and gave a strike call in Quetta on Sunday.

Shia clerics and scholars in other parts of the country including southern cities of Karachi and Hyderabad staged sit-in at the roads to express solidarity with the victims of Quetta blast.

The protestors demanded government to arrest those responsible behind the incident and provide foolproof security to Hazara Community.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast yet.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the blast and directed Governor of Balochistan, Zulfiqar Ali Magsi to leave no stone unturned for providing security to Hazara community which repeatedly becomes an easy target of miscreants.

Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf also condemned the blast and directed hospital administration to provide best medical treatment to the injured people.

This is the second major blast targeting Shia Muslims in the area since the beginning of this year. Earlier on January 10, over 90 people were killed and over 200 others injured when twin blasts targeted Hazara community in the city. Islamabad (Xinhua)