Pakistan: More than 12,000 affected by quake

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Updated 18 April 2013
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Pakistan: More than 12,000 affected by quake

MASHKAIL, Pakistan: More than 12,000 Pakistanis living in a remote, impoverished southwestern desert region near the Iranian border have been affected by this week’s huge earthquake, a relief official said on Thursday.
The 7.8-magnitude quake, centerd in southeastern Iran on Tuesday was the Islamic republic’s most powerful in five decades and killed 41 people — all but one of them were in Pakistan.
In Pakistan the worst-affected area has been Mashkeel, in Baluchistan, where the lack of paved roads, electricity, mobile phone coverage and medical facilities have hampered the rescue effort.
“We have done a rapid survey and found that over 12,000 people have been affected by the quake in Mashkail,” said Mehboob Ali, a district coordinator for the Balochistan Rural Support Program charity.
He said more than 3,200 homes, made mostly of mud, were either damaged or no longer habitable, forcing people to sleep out in the open or in makeshift shelters for a third night.
The military on Thursday continued to fly in medicine and tents, but more supplies are desperately needed, said local official Syed Mureed Shah.
“There’s growing impatience among the people affected by the quake as they are not receiving relief goods,” Shah said.
Rauf Jamal Dini, an official with Quetta-based charity Sahar, also called urgently for more supplies, saying neither the military nor government authorities had been seen in areas visited by his aid workers.
“People are making complaints. They are in dire need of relief goods. We are conducting a rapid survey to assess the damage,” he said.
But military and civilian officials said they were doing what they could.
Sohail Islam, a district health official, said four doctors and 10 paramedics on the ground had treated around 170 injured people since Wednesday.
“Most of the people have fractures and other injuries to limbs, and most are women and children. The seriously injured have been shifted to (provincial capital) Quetta while rest have been sent home,” he said.
Captain Shoaib Elahi from the Frontier Corps paramilitary said troops had treated 85 injured people in Mashkail, most of them women and children.
“Now they have moved to their houses. We have only two beds in an FC, mud-built health facility and only have two patients in the facility, a woman and an elderly man, whose beds are in open space,” he said.
Baluchistan, which also borders Afghanistan, is plagued by Islamist militancy, attacks on the Shiite Muslim minority and a separatist Baluch insurgency.


Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

Updated 20 April 2019
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Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

  • At least 7 people were killed in the attack on the Afghan communications ministry in Kabul
  • The area around the building was sealed off by police as at least 3 attackers battled security forces for several hours

KABUL: Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the communications ministry in central Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in a deadly, hours-long assault that destroyed weeks of relative calm in the capital.
The Taliban said it had “nothing to do” with the attack, which left some 2,000 people stranded in the tall office building for hours at the start of the Afghan work week.
No other group claimed immediate responsibility, but the Afghan branch of Daesh has previously carried out multiple deadly attacks in the capital.
“As a result of today’s explosion/attack in Kabul city, two people have been martyred (killed) and 6 others are wounded,” the health ministry spokesman wrote in a tweet, adding 3 of the injured were women.
In a statement, the interior ministry said four civilians and three soldiers had been killed, though unverified social media posts suggested the final toll could be higher.
AFP journalists heard one big blast around 11:40 am (0710 GMT), followed by sporadic gunfire for hours afterwards.
“The information that we have is four attackers have placed themselves near the communication ministry and are engaged in gunbattles with the Afghan security forces,” Amanduddin Shariati, a security official in Kabul told AFP.
By about 5:00 p.m. (1230 GMT), the interior ministry declared the assault over.
“Operations finished. All suicide bombers killed & more than 2000 civilians staff rescued,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Panicked workers inside the 18-story building, believed to be Kabul’s tallest, moved up to the top floor as gunmen and Afghan security officials battled lower down.
One woman said she had been in a group of about 30 people on the 10th floor when the assault started, then was told to move up to the 18th floor as gunfire increased. They were all eventually rescued by commandos.
“Women were screaming and children of the kindergarten were the first to be evacuated,” the woman, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
Afghan authorities gave conflicting reports during the incident. The information ministry initially said three suicide bombers had attacked a post office building at the ministry.
General Sayed Mohammad Roshan Dil, the Kabul police chief, said four attackers had been wearing police uniforms and had targeted a shrine near the ministry.
Footage on local television showed a small plume at the building, and people climbing out windows on a lower level.
The presidential palace said in a statement “the enemies of Afghanistan have conducted a terrorist attack.”
“Once again they have created fear and have killed or wounded a number of innocent countrymen,” the statement read.
The communication ministry is located in downtown Kabul, about two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the green zone, a heavily fortified compound for foreign embassies.
The area is the city’s main commercial zone and is home to a large hotel.
Aside from a grenade attack on a military vehicle last week and persistent crime, the capital has in recent weeks enjoyed a period of relative calm.
Last year however saw a string of attacks including one where a massive bomb concealed in an ambulance killed more than 100 people.
The attack comes a week after the Taliban announced their annual spring offensive and amid ongoing fighting across Afghanistan.
It illustrates the sprawling nature of Afghanistan’s conflict, and the obstacles to peace even if a deal is reached with the Taliban.
This week in the Qatari capital Doha, a summit planned between the Taliban and officials from across Afghanistan was scrapped at the last minute due to bickering over who should attend the conference.
The collapse comes at a critical time and amid continued bloodshed in Afghanistan, where the Taliban now control or influence about half of Afghanistan and 3,804 civilians were killed there last year, according to a UN tally.
Taliban officials are separately negotiating with the United States, which wants to forge a peace deal with the militants.