QUETTA, Pakistan: A bomb blast targeting a vehicle carrying security forces killed a young girl and wounded 16 others — including up to eight children — in Pakistan’s troubled southwest Saturday, police said.
The attack occurred in the Saryab area on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of the oil and gas rich Baluchistan province that borders Iran and Afghanistan.
“An improvised explosive device, which was planted in an auto rickshaw parked along the roadside went off as a vehicle of paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) passed by it,” city police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema told AFP.
He said a girl was killed and 16 others were injured, three of them seriously. The wounded included up to eight children, he added, without giving ages.
Senior police official Imran Qureshi confirmed the attack.
Nobody has so far claimed responsibility but Quetta and other cities of Baluchistan are rife with separatist and Islamist militants and plagued by sectarian bloodshed.
Quetta has been hit by numerous attacks in recent years, including two devastating bombings in early 2013 which targeted minority Shiite Muslims and killed nearly 180 people.
Baluchistan, the size of Italy and rich in copper, gold and natural gas, is Pakistan’s largest but least populous province.
It is also the least developed, which has exacerbated a long-running ethnic Baluch separatist movement that wants more autonomy and a greater share of its mineral wealth.
The latest armed insurgency rose up in 2004 and separatist groups still regularly attack Pakistani forces.
Rights groups accuse the military and intelligence agencies of kidnapping and killing suspected Baluch rebels before leaving their bodies by the roadside.