Civilians among those killed after two bombs hours apart targeted police vehicles in Pakistan.
Two roadside bombs hours apart targeted police vehicles in the Pakistani city of Quetta, killing at least four people and wounding 22, mostly civilian pedestrians.
The first attack in the capital of Balochistan province on Monday killed two police officers and two civilians. Hours later, another bomb in the city went off near a police vehicle, wounding four people, police said.
“A police vehicle was targeted in the Qandhari Bazar area of the city. Among the dead, two are police officials whereas one girl and another civilian died,” Waseem Baig, spokesperson for Civil Hospital in the city, told Al Jazeera on Monday, adding that at least 15 people were injured in the first attack.
Mitha Khan, a police official present at the hospital, told Al Jazeera that the “vehicle targeted belonged to a senior police official who was on his way to one of the police stations. The senior official is unhurt, but his driver and gunman died in the attack”.
The initial investigation revealed that four to five kilogrammes (nine to 11 pounds) of explosive was placed on a motorcycle, which was detonated by remote control, said Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) spokesman Zohaib Mohsin Baloch.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist group, claimed responsibility for the first attack.
On Sunday evening, armed men targeted personnel of the Police Eagle Squad in Quetta, killing two police officers and injuring another. One of the attackers was killed by police.
Monday’s attacks came only days after Pakistan’s top intelligence agency arrested a “high-value target” in an operation against a Baloch rebel group in the province.
In a statement on Friday, the military said the target – Gulzar Imam, also known by the name Shambay – is the founder and leader of the banned Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA), which, according to the army, had been involved in dozens of “terrorist” attacks in the country, including those on security forces.
Balochistan province, full of natural resources and situated on the border of Afghanistan and Iran, has been a scene of rebellion by Baloch separatists for more than 20 years.
The nationalist groups have made demands to share the resources, and have for two decades initiated a movement for complete independence.
Also on Friday, a statement from the prime minister’s office said that the National Security Committee (NSC) has agreed to launch a nationwide military operation due to rising security concerns.
“The [NSC] meeting agreed to launch an all-out comprehensive operation with [the participation of the] entire nation and government to rid the country of the menace of terrorism,” a news release from the prime minister’s office said.
The last major operation launched to counter armed groups was in 2014, which resulted in the displacement of more than a million people while hundreds were killed.
Pakistan has in the last few months seen a drastic increase in attacks on its security forces by the Pakistan Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP) after it unilaterally ended a ceasefire agreement with the government in November last year.
This year, the group and its factions have unleashed a wave of attacks including a suicide bombing at a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed more than 100 people, mostly policemen.
Additional reporting by Syed Abid Hussain in Islamabad.
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