Bomb attack on army vehicle kills 15 in Pakistan

A bomb explodes near a crowded market in the Pakistani city of Quetta, killing at least 15 people, officials say, the latest attack to hit the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan.
Pakistani security officials inspecting the scene of the explosion at a bus stop in Quetta yesterday.
Pakistani security officials inspecting the scene of the explosion at a bus stop in Quetta yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

QUETTA • A powerful blast targeting a military vehicle killed at least 15 people and wounded 32 others in south-western Pakistan on Saturday night, officials said, in an attack claimed by terror group ISIS.

The blast occurred at a bus stop in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, and the area caught fire soon. A Pakistani military statement said the explosion targeted an on-duty vehicle and set several other vehicles on fire.

"Incendiary explosive was used. As a result, nearby vehicles caught fire. Fifteen people, including seven civilians, were martyred," it said.

Provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti and government spokesman Anwar ul Haq Kakar confirmed the death toll and said 32 were wounded. The Islamic State Khorasan Province - the Middle Eastern group's affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan - released a statement claiming the attack, according to the US-based monitoring group Site.

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A suicide motorbike bomber was behind the blast, it said. The local affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been known to work with Pakistani militant groups in previous attacks.

Mr Bugti said firefighters were still working to put out the blaze, and an investigation was under way.

The blast came two days before Pakistan's 70th Independence Day, and military chief Qamar Javed Bajwa said it was an effort to mar celebrations. "Our resolve won't succumb to any challenge," he said in a statement.

Militants in past have carried out big attacks on Independence Day and other events of national importance. ISIS militants and the Taleban have attacked Quetta city in the past.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2017, with the headline 'Bomb attack on army vehicle kills 15 in Pakistan'. Print Edition | Subscribe