Pakistani Taliban claim credit for deadly attack in Quetta
Pakistani security forces comb through the burnt wreckage of a vehicle in Quetta, following a deadly roadside bomb attack targeting a police convoy on May 23, 2013. The explosion killed at least 11 police and two civilians. Photo by the Associated Press.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban-e Pakistan (Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, or TTP) claimed responsibility for today's deadly roadside bomb attack in the city of Quetta. Pakistani authorities confirmed that 11 members of a newly created elite police unit and two civilians were killed after a rickshaw packed with explosives detonated as a security convoy passed by. At least 20 others were wounded, and authorities cautioned that the death toll could rise.
Additional details were reported by the Associated Press:
The rickshaw was packed with around 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives and was parked alongside a road in the city [Quetta]. It was detonated by remote control when a vehicle carrying members of the police's special forces team passed by, said senior police officer Fayaz Sumbal.
Eyewitness Irshad Ali said the blast "was so loud, we thought something had fallen from the sky." The bomb completely destroyed the police vehicle, leaving little more than twisted sheets of metal.
The special forces unit that was targeted was put together months ago to deal with increasing incidents of kidnappings and shootings in Baluchistan, said Sumbal.
The TTP were quick to claim the attack. "We proudly claim responsibility for Thursday's blast in Quetta and the target was local police," Taliban spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters. "The Balochistan police recently arrested and killed some of our colleagues belonging to the Swat Taliban."
The TTP were heavily involved in orchestrating a series of bombings prior to Pakistan's national elections held on May 11, including a bloody twin bomb attack in Karachi targeting the election office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party. That attack killed at least three people and wounded 34 others, al Jazeera reported.
Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly called for engaging the Taliban in talks to help end the rising militancy, but the TTP have so far rebuffed these efforts. The TTP, which had initially called for conditional peace talks with the Pakistani government on Feb. 3, temporarily suspended the offer on March 20, 2013.