A powerful bombing in the parking lot of a luxury hotel in the agitated city of Quetta, in southwest Pakistan, left at least five dead and 12 injured, authorities said, denying reports that the Chinese ambassador was present in the building at the time of the explosion. .
The explosion took place Wednesday evening in the parking lot of the Serena Hotel in Quetta. Several vehicles parked nearby caught fire after the explosion. According to some initial reports, the hotel hosted Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong.
Quetta is the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan.
The initial investigation found that the explosion was caused by the explosion of explosive material installed inside a car, police said.
Firefighters immediately arrived in the parking lot to extinguish the flames. Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze.
The windows of the Assembly of Balochistan, the High Court and other nearby buildings were shattered due to the impact of the explosion.
The banned organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the explosion. A TTP spokesperson said: âOur suicide bomber used his car filled with explosives in the hotel.
Inspector General of Balochistan Muhammad Tahir Rai said police are still measuring the intensity of the explosion.
In response to a question, he said that no ambassador or member of a foreign delegation was staying at the hotel when the explosion occurred.
“I can confirm that the Chinese ambassador was not present in the hotel at the time of the explosion and that it is an apparent attempt to sow terror and chaos in the province,” said he declared.
Rai said experts from the police force were investigating, adding that they would soon release the findings of the investigation.
Rai said about 90 kg of explosives were used in the blast. He confirmed that a policeman on duty at the hotel was also killed in the blast.
At a press conference after the incident, Balochistan’s Interior Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove said there was a wave of terrorism in the region.
He said there had been no threat alerts before the attack.
Responding to media reports that Chinese Ambassador Nong was the apparent target of the attack, Langove said the ambassador was not present at the hotel when the explosion occurred.
âI just met the Chinese ambassador and he is in a good mood,â he said, adding that the investigation will determine the target.
Balochistan government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said the incident was being investigated from all angles. “Those involved will not be able to escape the grip of the law,” he tweeted.
The Chinese ambassador had met with provincial chief minister Jam Kamal Khan in the city earlier today, according to a tweet from Shahwani.
The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan did not immediately comment.
The Serena Hotel is the only four-star hotel in the city and is frequented by Chinese nationals and other dignitaries who visit Quetta.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the incident on Thursday, calling it a “cowardly terrorist attack”.
âI am deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives in the condemnable and cowardly terrorist attack on Quetta. Our nation has made great sacrifices to defeat terrorism and we will not allow this scourge to reappear. We remain alert to all internal and external threats, ” he said.
The resource-rich province of Balochistan is home to several armed groups, including Islamic extremists and separatists.
Activists seek independence from the rest of Pakistan and oppose major Chinese infrastructure projects in the region.
The separatists have also been accused of attacking a luxury hotel in Gwadar two years ago, where a major port project is funded by China.
In October last year, at least 14 people, including seven Border Corps soldiers and seven private security guards, were killed when militants attacked a convoy of the state-owned Oil & Gas Development Company Ltd on the coastal road from Makran to Ormara, in the province.
The convoy was on its way to Karachi from Gwadar when it was attacked.