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Suicide bomber kills eight, injures dozens in Pakistan – 12 year old girl among the dead

QUETTA: Pakistani security officials stand beside the bodies of blast victims at the site after a bomb explosion targeting a security convoy. — AFP
QUETTA: Pakistani security officials stand beside the bodies of blast victims at the site after a bomb explosion targeting a security convoy. — AFP

QUETTA: At least eight people were killed and 40 wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself up near a military convoy in Pakistan’s western city of Quetta yesterday, police and hospital officials said, the latest attack in a region home to the planned route of a $46 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor.

“The suicide bomber was riding a bicycle and detonated himself close to a Frontier Corps vehicle,” said senior police official Imtiaz Shah, referring to the branch of Pakistan’s paramilitary forces targeted in the attack.

At least three Frontier Corps personnel were killed in the attack that occurred in the city centre in the late afternoon, Frontier Corps spokesman Khan Wasey said. A 12-year-old girl was also among the dead, said Ajab Khan, a doctor at the city’s Civil Hospital, where the casualties were received. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khurasani told Reuters that the group, also known as the TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack on the convoy in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan.

Rich in resources, Baluchistan is at the heart of the multi-billion-dollar energy and infrastructure projects China and Pakistan are planning along a corridor stretching from the Arabian Sea to China’s Xinjiang region. But the province, the poorest and least developed in Pakistan, has seen nearly a decade of separatist violence against the government and non-Baluch ethnic groups.

Baluch activists and human rights groups claim the military has carried out a campaign of kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial killing of suspected separatists, and a security crackdown has severely limited freedom of movement in the province. In January, five Pakistani soldiers and two coast guard members were killed in separate attacks in the province, and a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people outside a polio eradication centre in Quetta.

Child wedding interrupted

In other news, Police have arrested six people accused of arranging the marriage of a seven-year-old boy and six-year-old girl in eastern Pakistan, officials said yesterday. The fathers of both children, the cleric performing the ceremony, and three witnesses were charged under the Child Marriage Restraint Act yesterday after being arrested in Punjab province on Friday, senior police official Saifullah Khan told AFP.

They face six months imprisonment and/or a fine of 50,000 rupees ($500). Local police chief Mehr Riaz Hussain said the accused have denied that the wedding took place, but police have it on video. Pakistani lawmakers last month withdrew a proposal to impose harsher penalties on those who arrange child marriages after it was scuttled by a religious body which branded it “blasphemous” and against Islam.

The proposal, which would also have raised the legal age of marriages for females from 16 to 18, called for “rigorous” punishment of up to two years in prison for those who organize child marriages, still common in some parts of Pakistan. The original law stipulates the age of marriage to be 16 for women and 18 for men but Pakistani religious scholars at the Council of Islamic Ideology, believe it is not in accordance with Islamic teachings. They say there is no specific age limit for marriage in Sharia as an individual can marry when he or she reaches puberty and puberty cannot be defined by age. Rights activists strongly criticized the rejection of bill. – Agencies

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