World, Asia - Pacific

Bomb blast kills 20 in southwest Pakistan

Explosion in Quetta city leaves more than 40 others injured

Aamir Latif   | 12.04.2019
Bomb blast kills 20 in southwest Pakistan FILE PHOTO

KARACHI, Pakistan

 A powerful bomb blast in southwest Pakistan killed at least 20 people and injured more than 40 others on Friday morning, according to officials.

The bomb was placed in a gunny bag inside a grocery shop in the northern Hazargunji outskirt of Quetta city -- capital of southwestern Balochistan province -- local police chief Abdul Razzak Cheema told reporters.

However, Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove told a news conference, aired by local broadcasters, that the blast was an act of a suicide bomber and that 20 people were killed and 48 others injured in the attack.

Earlier, Cheema had said eight of the deceased were Hazaras, while one paramilitary troop was also among the victims of the explosion.

Hazaras, who originally hail from northern Afghanistan, have long been target of suicide bombings, and bomb blasts claimed by hardline sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in past decades.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the "cowardly act," and extended his condolences to the victim's families and the Pakistani government. 

Guterres "wishes a speedy recovery to those injured," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. "The United Nations expresses its fully solidarity with the Government of Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism."

Quetta has long been beset with sectarian violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives over the past one decade, according to local media.

Balochistan, which covers 42 percent of the country's land and borders neighboring Afghanistan and Iran, is also a key route of multi-million-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

*Michael Hernandez in Washington contributed to the story. 

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