At least 25 people were killed and more than 30 have been injured, including deputy chairman of the senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, in a powerful blast on Friday in Pakistan's south-western Balochistan province.
The bombing targetted Haideri when he came out of a religious seminary after addressing a gathering in Mastung area of the province shortly after the weekly Friday prayers. The area where the explosion took place is approximately 70 kilometres from provincial capital Quetta.
Senior police officer Abdul Razzaq Cheema said that 30-40 people were injured. He said Haideri was slightly injured.
"I am alive, Allah has saved my life, it was a sudden blast, broken pieces of the windscreen hit me, I am injured but safe. The driver and other people sitting next to me were badly injured," Haideri said on private TV channel SAMAA.
Citing sources, Geo TV said Haideri has been shifted to the civil hospital. Haideri later told Dunya TV in a brief chat that he received minor injuries.
Television footage showed Haideri’s vehicle was badly damaged. He was sitting in the car at the time of blast. His driver was killed in the attack.
Haideri is a top official of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), one of the country's most powerful religious political parties. JUI-F has been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the past, even though the party leaders have acted as negotiators between the militants and Pakistan government in the past.
So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
"It is not yet clear whether it was a planted bomb or a suicide attack," police official Safar Khan told AFP as he gave the toll.
Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament, told Reuters minutes after the blast that he believed he was the target and he had sustained minor injuries.
"My convoy was going to Mastung and there was an explosion. There are many casualties as there were many people in the convoy," he said by telephone.
Mastung police official Ghazanfar Ali Shah said the convoy appeared to have been hit by a suicide bomber and at least 17 people were killed, including Haideri's driver.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the bombing attack on the deputy leader of the Senate that killed at least 25 other people in the country's southwestern Baluchistan province.
Government official Munir Raisani says the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault on Friday in the town of Mastung.
A statement from the prime minister says he is praying for the swift recovery of Haideri. Sharif also requested authorities ensure the best medical care for those wounded in the attack.
Separatist militants in Balochistan have waged a campaign against the central government for decades, demanding a greater share of the gas-rich province's resources. Taliban and other Islamist militants also operate in the province, which shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.
Pakistan has been battling Islamist and nationalist insurgencies in mineral-rich Balochistan since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.
Bordering Iran and Afghanistan, it is the largest of Pakistan's four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
A greater push towards peace and development by Pakistani authorities has reduced the violence considerably in recent years.
The push includes starting work on a massive Chinese infrastructure project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which gives Beijing a route to the Arabian Sea through Balochistan's deep sea port of Gwadar.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: May 12, 2017 16:08 PM | Updated Date: May 12, 2017 17:51 PM