At least four people, including a senior police official, have been killed in a bomb attack in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Baluchistan, officials say.
The deadly assault occurred in the provincial capital of Quetta on Thursday, when an assailant detonated an explosive vest as a police vehicle was passing by. The vehicle was carrying the city’s Deputy Inspector General Hamid Shakeel to work.
The huge blast killed Shakeel, his driver, an assistant sub-inspector and another police officer, said police official Naseeb Ullah, adding that at least eight others, including civilians, sustained injuries in the terror attack.
According to Pakistan’s Civil Defense Department, up to 15 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack, which was later claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban militant group, also known as the Pakistani Taliban.
Shakeel had reportedly played a key role in dismantling militant and separatist outfits in the volatile region in recent years, added Naseeb Ullah.
Baluchistan, which shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran, was rocked by a series of terrorist attacks late last year, claiming more than 180 lives. The attacks raised fears of increased militant activity in the area.
Separatist militants in the province have waged a decades-long campaign against the central government, demanding a greater share of resources in the gas-rich province, which is a key part of a $57-billion Chinese economic corridor through Pakistan.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered an alliance with the US in its so-called war on terror. Thousands more have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping across the country.