Four cops killed in attack claimed by Taliban in southwestern Pakistan

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Funerals of four deceased policemen are being offered at police line Quetta here on May 13, 2019. Chief Minister Jam Kamal, Home Minister Zia Langau and IG Balochistan Mohsin Butt also attend the funerals (Photo by CM House)
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Pakistani security officials examine the site of a bomb blast in Quetta on May 13, 2019. Four police were killed and nine people wounded when militants detonated a bomb hidden under a motorbike in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, police said on May 13. (AFP)
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This image shows a damaged vehicle at the site of the explosion in Quetta's Satellite Town on May 13, 2019. (Courtesy Security Forces)
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Pakistani security officials examine the site of a bomb blast in Quetta on May 13, 2019. Four police were killed and nine people wounded when militants detonated a bomb hidden under a motorbike in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, police said on May 13. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2019
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Four cops killed in attack claimed by Taliban in southwestern Pakistan

  • Militants hit two police vehicles with improvised bomb rigged to motorbike outside mosque
  • Last week, 12 killed in attack outside shrine in Lahore city, 5 killed as gunmen stormed hotel in Gwadar port city

QUETTA: An improvised bomb rigged to a motorcycle and targeting a police vehicle exploded near a mosque in the Pakistani city of Quetta in southwestern Balochistan province, a senior police officer said on Monday night, in the third major attack in the country in a week.
Security across most of Pakistan has improved over recent years following a major crackdown after 148 people, most of them children, were killed when gunmen stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014.
But a string of attacks this week has underscored that militants can continue to launch major attacks and undermine stability in the nuclear-armed nation of 208 million people.
Quetta’s Deputy Inspector General Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema told Arab News four policemen were killed in an assault on a police vehicle outside the Al Huda Mosque in the Satellite Town area of Quetta before the late night tarawih prayers. Seven others attending prayers at the mosque were wounded.
In the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims say the extra tarawih prayers after the obligatory Isha prayers at night.
“Terrorists were unable to hit the worshippers due to our security measures; that’s why they decided to attack the police,” Cheema said.
Dr. Waseem Baig, a spokesperson of Quetta’s civil hospital, said eleven people were injured and one of them, a civilian, was in critical condition.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast in an emailed statement that said, “Our mine masters today night at 8:45 targeted police vehicles through IED.”
Many vehicles parked in the area were damaged and windows of nearby buildings shattered due to the impact of the powerful blast, though the mosque was not hit.
Funerals for four cops, who belonged to the Rapid Response Force, were held at civil lines in Quetta and attended by top political and police officials, including Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan.
“These barbaric terrorists have no religion and targeted Muslim Namazi (worshipers),” Kamran Asad, a spokesman for the chief minister said, quoting the top official. “CM has said that the terrorists killing innocent people and those raising slogans against the country will not be tolerated.”
Monday night’s attack comes just days after a splinter group of the Taliban had claimed an attack on a police vehicle guarding a major Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore that killed at least 12.
In another attack over the weekend, gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan, killing at least five people, in what the militants said was a strike against Chinese and other foreign investors who are behind infrastructure and energy projects in the province, including a commercial deepwater port.
Saturday’s attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army, a separatist group that has been fighting a low-level insurgency against the government for decades.
Gwadar is a strategic port on the Arabian Sea that is being developed as part of the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is itself part of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure project. Separatist groups have denounced the development plans and vowed to block them while Pakistan has promised China it would protect its investments and Chinese workers.


British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

Updated 23 May 2019
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British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

  • BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad
  • BA will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

ISLAMABAD: British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian country.

BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan.

Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourist and investors.

“The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” British Airways said in a statement. It will launch a three-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said.

“We’re on board,” Pakistani Civil Aviation spokeswoman Farah Hussain said about the flights resumption.

BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the airline’s newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its ageing fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.

Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have a strong presence in Pakistan and have been eating into PIA’s dwindling market share. Turkish Airlines also lays on a regular service to Pakistan.

Islamabad has been running international advertising campaigns to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which was wiped out by Islamist violence that destabilised the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

“We hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said in BA’s statement.

BA said there will be a halal meal option in every cabin and the airline would also ensure sauces in every meal do not contain alcohol or pork.