Quetta, Taliban attack on diplomats' hotel: 4 dead and 12 wounded
A suicide bomber blew himself up in a car in the hotel parking lot, no foreigners among the victims. The target was probably the Chinese ambassador who is on a visit to the city.
Quetta (AsiaNews) - At least 4 people were killed and 12 others injured in a suicide bomb attack overnight on the Serena Hotel in Quetta. It is the only four-star hotel in the capital of the Pakistani region of Baluchistan used as a base by foreign delegations.
The powerful explosion, detonated in the hotel parking lot in the Sharah-e-Zarghoon neighborhood was heard several kilometres away. Several other vehicles were damaged. The attack was claimed by the Taliban: a spokesman told Reuters that a suicide bomber blew up the car.
No ambassador or member of a foreign delegation was in the hotel at the time of the attack and none of the foreign guests are among the victims. It is believed, however, that the target was the Chinese ambassador Nong Rong, who is currently in Quetta but was not in the facility at the time of the attack.
The inspector general of Baluchistan police, Tahir Rai, explained that the anti-terrorism department is investigating the incident while the hotel has been isolated. Closed-circuit images show a blaze and a cloud of smoke rising from the parking lot.
Baluchistan is one of the poorest provinces in Pakistan and is the base of several armed groups of Islamic extremists and separatists. In addition to claiming independence, these militias are opposed to the major infrastructure projects that China is carrying out in the area for the exploitation of natural resources.
Two years ago there had already been an attack on a hotel in Gwadar, where the Chinese are building a port, while on October 16 seven soldiers of the Baluchistan Border Corps were killed in a shot out with a large group of terrorists while they were escorting a convoy of the state-owned Oil & Gas Development Company on the road from Karachi to Gwadar.
Yesterday's attack was condemned by the spokesman for the government of Baluchistan, Liaquat Shahwani, who called it "a terrorist attack carried out by those who do not want the development of this region". He also added that the hotel was equipped with scanners and security checks which will now need to be checked.
When asked about this latest episode of violence, the Christian human rights activist Mariyam Kashif, comments from Karachi to AsiaNews: “The government of Baluchistan must take serious measures for the safety of its citizens. I pray for the prosperity of Pakistan: that peace may prevail in this country, people may enjoy their freedom and live a peaceful life”.