At least 20 people were killed and 48 injured when a blast hit the Hazarganji market in Quetta, Pakistan, on Friday.
Nine people from the Hazara community and one Frontier Corps soldier were among the dead.
Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was deeply saddened by the attack. “I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the people. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured.”
At the site of the blast, DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema told the media that every day, people from the Hazara community come to this market from Hazara Town to buy groceries. Police and Frontier Corps personnel escort them and take them back as well. On Friday, there were 11 vehicles and 55 people in that convoy. To a question whether the Hazara community members were the targets, Mr. Cheema said that while the Hazaras have been targeted in the past, this market place has people from other ethnic communities as well.
According to the police, the explosive was hidden inside a potato sack at a vegetable shop, while Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove said in a press conference that it was a suicide attack. Mr. Langove added that the attack did not target any specific community.
The Hazara community in Quetta has been a target of terrorist attacks for more than a decade.
Advocate Jalila Haider, a woman lawyer from the community, believes that while people from other communities died in the attack as well, the real target was the Hazaras. “I am so disappointed and hurt right now. The Army chief assured us [Hazaras] that our community will be safe after the last attack. This attack challenges his promise as well,” Ms. Haider told The Hindu.
Saroop Ijaz, a lawyer who works for the Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, told The Hindu that the attack highlights the need to take prompt, effective and rights-respecting measures by bringing the perpetrators to justice. “Many of the victims are from the already persecuted Hazaras. Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly expressed the commitment that militant outfits targeting civilians and security officials will be held accountable and this attack should be treated as a test case,” added Mr. Ijaz.