Volunteers carry an injured victim on a stretcher at the site of a suicide bombing in Quetta in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province on April 21. (Photo: Banaras Khan/AFP)
Church officials in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province have condemned a suicide bombing in Quetta in which five people died and more than 12 were injured.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the car bomb attack on a meeting of senior Pakistani officials in the Serena Hotel on April 21.
Chinese ambassador Nong Rong was staying at the hotel but wasn't there when the bomb went off.
The only four-star deluxe hotel in the city is located near the bishop’s house in an area that includes four Catholic schools and the diocesan office of Caritas Pakistan.
Sharafat Shareef, executive secretary of Caritas Quetta, was working late in his office when the hotel was attacked.
“I thought it was a powerful earthquake. Several windows of our offices were broken. We condemn the carnage during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,” he told UCA News on April 22.
We pray for an end to this evil. People are already suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Father Shehzad Anwar, in charge of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Lora Lai, near Quetta, urged all to support security forces.
“They are struggling to maintain peace in the province near the Afghan border. Paramilitary forces like the Frontier Corps, Levies and border police are unheard of in other provinces. Church people keep a low profile and avoid security personnel while traveling to avoid attention. We always accompany a Baloch who knows the local language,” he said.
“We pray for an end to this evil. People are already suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The attack has spread fear among local Pashtun who usually hang out in the evening after Iftar meals.”
Last month priests and bishops from around the country gathered in St. Francis Grammar School near the Serena Hotel for the installation of Capuchin Father Khalid Rehmat as the new vicar apostolic of Quetta.
Balochistan has a long history of civil strife, with frequent changes to its dominion and borders. In recent years, separatist insurgents have been demanding greater autonomy and a greater share of the province's natural resources.
Last week 12 people were injured in an explosion during a football match at a ground in Balochistan's industrial town of Hub.
Violence has spiked in the province since the launch of the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project that focuses on upgrading infrastructure, power and transport links between China’s Xinjiang region and Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan.
Pakistan’s army has carried out operations in the areas where the project passes through as they have to provide a clear path to China. Baloch separatists have termed the projects “imperialism” and targeted Chinese engineers and workers associated with them.