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Tons Of Bomb Materials Seized In Quetta

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

QUETTA, Pakistan -- Pakistani security forces have seized some 100 tons of a chemical used for making bombs and detained 10 people in a raid in the southwestern city of Quetta.

Security officials say the material seized on the night of August 20 was the same type used in two bombings in the city earlier this year that killed some 200 people.

Colonel Maqbool Shah, a senior commander of the Frontier Constabulary force, said on August 21 that the raid came a day after two men were arrested in Quetta while transporting 15 tons of potassium chlorate in a truck.

Shah told journalists that the two men led officers to a warehouse stocked with potassium chlorate as well as guns and ammunition.

"From what I know, such a huge quantity of explosives has never been seized in the history of Pakistan," he said. "If you look closely inside, this is a sort of factory where they had even installed machines. I think the owners acted as suppliers of bombs. They provided the explosives [and bombs] to whichever group paid for it."

Shah revealed that security forces seized several vehicles, which were being prepared to be used as car bombs.

"You can imagine what a disaster could have taken place [with the use of] this material," he said. "I'm very thankful to God that today we saved Quetta and Balochistan [Province] in general from a big disaster."

Quetta is the regional capital of southwestern Balochistan Province, which is plagued by Taliban militant attacks and sectarian violence.

It was unclear which group was responsible for the cache of bomb-making equipment. But Lashkar-e Jhangvi, a banned Sunni militant group, claimed responsibility for two deadly bombings in Quetta earlier this year.

Both bombs targeted the city's small Shi'ite Hazara community. In the first attack, militants packed an ambulance with explosives. The second targeted a market with a ton of explosives hidden in a water tanker.

The arid, sparsely populated, and mineral-rich Balochistan makes up nearly half of Pakistan's territory.

During the past decade, thousands of civilians, militants, and soldiers have been killed in attacks by sectarian groups, Baluch separatists, and military operations.


With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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