At least four people have been killed and 12 others injured in an explosion in the parking lot of the Serena Hotel in Balochistan’s capital Quetta, officials said.
The nature of the blast has not been ascertained as yet and no one immediately claimed responsibility for it.
Fire and rescue officials have reached the site of the explosion, which took place at 10:30pm on Wednesday.
Quetta Deputy Commissioner Aurangzeb Badini confirmed on Twitter that four people have died and a dozen injured in the explosion.
Quetta Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent Arbab Kamran Kasi earlier confirmed the casualties, saying two people were in critical condition.
Balochistan Inspector General of Police Tahir Rai told Dawn.com that the explosion occurred in the parking lot of Serena Hotel.
He added that the hotel premises has been cordoned off and the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has been deployed to investigate the incident.
Footage shared from the scene showed huge flames and plumes of smoke rising into the sky.
“The Quetta Serena Hotel is the only four-star deluxe hotel in the city of Quetta,” according to the hotel’s website. It is located on the Shahrah-e-Zarghun Road.
In a tweet, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said he “strongly condemn[ed]” the explosion.
Badini said the casualties of the blast have been shifted to hospital. “[The] situation is under control, people are requested to avoid rumours and don’t create panic,” he tweeted.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the interior ministry is in close contact with the Balochistan government and that initial investigations are underway. “The government will issue a statement as soon as the nature of the blast and losses are determined,” he added.
The incident comes a week after 12 people were injured in an explosion during a football tournament being held at a ground in Allahbad Town located in Balochistan’s industrial town of Hub.
The tournament was dedicated to police martyrs. “The explosion occurred while the final match was being played,” Lasbela SSP Tariq Ilahi had said.
There have been deadly explosions and attacks at other luxury hotels in the country in the past as well.
In May 2019, at least five people were killed and several injured in a gun-and-bomb attack targeting the five-star Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar. It was claimed by the banned Balochistan Liberation Army.
In 2008, 60 people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with 600 kilogrammes of high explosives into the outer gates of the five-star Marriott hotel in Islamabad. The attack destroyed part of the hotel which was then shut down and opened a few months later surrounded by a massive, bomb-proof wall.
The following year, at least nine people were killed in a gun and suicide car bomb attack at Peshawar’s five-star Pearl Continental. The blast caused widespread damage to the five-storey building. A mosque, two main halls and the lobby of the hotel were badly damaged.
There has been an uptick in violence in Balochistan, with several incidents of terrorism being reported last year.
On October 16, seven soldiers of Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan and seven security guards were martyred in an ‘encounter’ with a “large number of terrorists” while escorting a convoy of state-run Oil & Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) on the Makran Coastal Highway in Ormara.
The convoy was on its way to Karachi from Gwadar when it came under attack.
In August last year, at least eight people, including police and FC personnel, were injured in a blast in Hub.
In April 2019, at least 14 people, including 11 personnel of Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards, were killed by gunmen after they were picked out with the help of their computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and offloaded from seven buses in the Buzi Pass area near Ormara.
This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.