A bomb targeting an anti-drug force tore through a busy market in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, killing at least six people and wounding 10 others, police and hospital officials said.
The explosion on Monday took place when an improvised bomb planted in a motorcycle went off in the heart of the city of Chaman, which borders Afghanistan.
A vehicle carrying personnel from a unit tasked with combating narcotics smuggling was believed to be the target, senior police official Razzaq Cheema said.
“The explosion killed six passersby and wounded 10 others, two of them critically,” he told AFP news agency.
Mohammad Ali, a local police official, said some of the wounded were in critical condition.
Security forces and police cordoned off the area, where residents said several shops and vehicles were damaged.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but ethnic Balochi separatists demanding greater autonomy have been waging a rebellion for years while the province is also riven by sectarian strife and violence by armed groups.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the bombing and said he was praying for the recovery of those wounded.
Interior Minister Ejaz Shah said in a statement that “such attacks are aimed at spreading fear among the people”.
Balochistan has seen a surge in attacks in recent months, with fighters attacking a luxury hotel, a military convoy and members of the minority Shia community.
The mineral-rich province, which also borders Iran, 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.
China is investing in the area under a $54bn 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 in Balochistan.