Deadly blast strikes Pakistan’s Quetta

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Explosion near site of independence-day celebrations claims at least 15 lives in main city of Balochistan province.

A blast in the Pakistani city of Quetta in Balochistan province has killed at least 15 people and injured 32 others, reports say, in an incident blamed by the military on “terrorists”.

Saturday’s explosion targeted a military truck, killing eight soldiers and seven civilians who were nearby, the Pakistan’s military said in a statement.

President Mamnoon Hussain condemned the attack, saying: “Our resolve won’t succumb to any challenge”.

The military said an incendiary explosive was used causing fire in vehicles parked near the area.

The blast occurred near a stadium where celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence had been under way since Friday.

Analysis: Why is Pakistan’s Quetta under attack?

“We can now confirm that 15 people have died in the explosion today. At least 32 others are wounded,” Sarfraz Bugti, Balochistan home minister, told AFP news agency, adding that a rescue operation was under way.

A spokesman for the Balochistan government, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, also confirmed the toll.

Bugti said workers were busy extinguishing the blaze. He said the holidays of all doctors in the city were suspended.

“We are trying to transfer injured people to hospitals as soon as possible. Workers are also busy extinguishing the fire at the site,” he said.

The nature of the blast could not immediately be determined but an investigation was underway, Bugti said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, has seen frequent attacks targeting government buildings and security forces, as well as civilians.

In June at least 12 people were killed and 14 others wounded in a suicide car attack near the provincial police headquarters.

Recent attacks

In February, two bomb-disposal squad members were killed and 11 others wounded in an explosion under Quetta’s Saryab bridge, according to local media reports.

In August last year, at least 74 people were killed in a suicide attack on the city’s Civil Hospital, while another 60 were killed in an attack on a police academy two months later.

Past attacks in Balochistan have been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, ISIL, as well as by Baloch separatists who are fighting for independence from Pakistan.

Balochistan has also seen a number of attacks carried out by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Al Alami faction, a group with ties to ISIL, known for attacking Shia Muslims.

 

With additional reporting by Al Jazeera’s Asad Hashim. Follow him on Twitter @AsadHashim.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies