SIBI: A bomb blast on a train in Balochistan killed at least 17 people and injured 40 others on Tuesday, officials said, with the death toll feared to rise.
The United Baloch Army (UBA), one of several armed separatist groups in Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the bombing, with its spokesman warning of more such attacks in the coming days in response to a major military operation against militants that began on Monday. The explosion occurred after the train had pulled to a stop and passengers were disembarking at Sibi railway station around 160 kilometres south of its destination Quetta.
Two carriages quickly became engulfed by a scorching inferno and smoke as passengers, some of whom were on fire, screamed and struggled to escape, senior police official Mohammad Nazar, who was at the scene, told AFP. “We have recovered 12 dead bodies from the train. They have been burnt to charcoal,” he said, adding one of the injured had died after being taken to a military hospital in the same town. Sher Khan Bazai, a senior administration official, confirmed the incident.
“Twenty-four patients are in critical condition, they will be shifted to Quetta as soon as they are stable enough to travel,” he said, adding that the injured included six women and four children. The flames were only put out after fire fighters reached the scene, Nazar told AFP. “I can’t say whether the dead are adults or children as they are beyond recognition,” he said. The bomb went off in a carriage reserved for men. “Fire engulfed the carriage following the blast causing most of the deaths,” said a rescue worker.
The Frontier Corps (FC) began an operation against insurgents early Monday in the Kalat District, around 300 kilometres southwest of Quetta. They said they had killed 40 insurgents belonging to the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) though the toll could not be independently verified. “Today’s attack was a revenge against the military operation,” said UBA spokesman Mureed Baloch. “We warn the people not to travel in trains as we will continue attacks in the future,” he added. The train, known as the Jaffar Express, is a daily express service covering a 1,460 kilometre journey from Rawalpindi to Quetta.
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