Hindustan Times (East UP)

Pak Taliban claim responsibi­lity for deadly Quetta blast

- Letters@hindustant­imes.com

QUETTA, PAKISTAN: The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibi­lity for Wednesday night’s deadly suicide blast at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador in the southwest of the country, as the death toll went up to five.

A bomber detonated the explosives while inside a vehicle in the car park of Serena Hotel - part of a five-star chain popular with diplomats and aid agencies - in the city of Quetta, capital of Balochista­n province, police and the interior ministry said.

Pakistan is fighting several low-level insurgenci­es in the impoverish­ed province, waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups.

“The suicide bomber hit the security officials exactly as it was planned,” the spokespers­on for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said in a statement.

The country’s interior minister confirmed a suicide bomber had carried out the attack and pinned the blame on a “foreign hand”. “Our agencies will fight the efforts that are being made in the neighbouri­ng country to reorganise the TTP,” said interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

Pakistan routinely accuses

India of using insurgent groups, including in Afghanista­n, as proxy forces to wage an ongoing shadow war between the arch rivals.

China was among the first countries to react following the explosion, saying it strongly condemned the attack, although the Taliban said Pakistan security officials were the target of the blast.

Describing the blast as a “terrorist attack”, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin confirmed in Beijing that a Chinese delegation was not present when the bomb detonated.

Gu Wenliang, agricultur­e commission­er at China’s embassy in Pakistan, told Chinese newspaper Global Times that the bomb had detonated 10 minutes before their expected return.

“I was walking through the car park when I heard a sudden loud sound and the earth shook under my feet,” said Khuda Baksh, a guard at the hotel. “Everyone was running for their lives before I lost consciousn­ess.”

For years, the TTP unleashed deadly attacks on urban centres across Pakistan from their bases along the Afghan border, where they provided shelter to an array of global jihadist groups including al-Qaeda.

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