At least seven people, including six policemen, were killed and 24 others injured in an explosion targeting a truck carrying police officials in the Sariab Mill area of Quetta on Wednesday.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema said an investigation is underway to determine whether the blast was a suicide bombing or whether an explosives-laden vehicle was detonated remotely when the police truck was passing by, adding that the death toll could increase.
The 35-strong contingent of elite policemen had been recently assigned patrol of various sensitive areas and were on their way to work on the Quetta-Sibi road when the explosion took place, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti told DawnNews.
Bugti told AFP that a car rammed the police vehicle before catching fire, adding it was “apparently a suicide attack”, in an account confirmed by.
“Police were targeted in this attack,” Bugti said.
DIG Cheema confirmed the death toll, saying that 24 people were wounded, several critically.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, but the claim has not been independently verified.
Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, while speaking to reporters, said the bomb contained 80 kilograms of explosive material.
Following the attack, an emergency was imposed in hospitals in Quetta. Some of the injured were admitted to Civil Hospital Quetta, while the rest were being treated at Combined Military Hospital.
A forensic team and the Bomb Disposal Squad had reached the site of the attack to investigate the nature of the blast, Bugti said, adding that a forensic team from Lahore would arrive in Quetta tomorrow to aid in the probe.
“The war against terrorism is not over. Baluchistan is on the forefront of this fight and we will not stop until every single terrorist has left the area,” the home minister said.
He added: “These cowardly attacks will not hinder our security forces in executing their duties.”
In a separate incident, Police Inspector Abdul Salam was shot dead on Quetta’s Qambrani Road, in what security sources claim was a target killing.
Balochistan has experienced incidents of violence and targeted killings for over a decade. In recent months, the province has faced a number of security challenges, with security personnel in the province often being targeted in roadside explosions and suicide attacks.