By: Pramod Thomas
AT LEAST three people were killed and 18 others injured in a bomb blast on Wednesday (2) in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern province of Balochistan, which borders on Afghanistan and Iran, officials said.
The roadside explosion occurred as a police van travelled through the provincial capital of Quetta, which is home to several separatist and Islamist insurgencies.
“At least three people are dead including a senior police officer,” Fida Hussain Shah, a senior police official, said, adding that the attack was believed to have targeted police.
“It was an improvised explosive device and apparently two to three kilograms of explosive was used,” he added.
He said 18 people were injured in the incident including four police.
Waseem Baig, a spokesperson for Quetta’s Civil Hospital also confirmed the death toll while putting the number of injured at 25.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province despite being rich in natural resources.
The country is fighting several low-level insurgencies in the province, waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, however, Baloch separatists in recent months have increased attacks on security forces.
Last month, at least nine soldiers were killed after insurgents attacked two army check posts in the province.
Tensions have been stoked further by a flood of Chinese investment under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which locals say has not reached them.
China is investing in the area under a $54-billion project known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, upgrading infrastructure, power and transport links between its far-western Xinjiang region and Pakistan’s Gwadar port.