QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber rammed a car into a police truck in the southwestern city of Quetta on Wednesday, killing at least seven people, police said.
The attack killed five police officials and two passers-by on the outskirts of the city of Quetta, police chief Abdur Razzaq Cheema said. He said 22 people were wounded, eight of them critically.
Sarfraz Bugti, the home minister of Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is capital, told Reuters: “It was a suicide blast.”
Quetta is about 100 km (60 miles) east of the border with Afghanistan.
Bugti said the truck carrying the police officials was on its way to the city to drop them at their posts when the suicide bomber rammed into the vehicle. Television pictures showed the burnt wreckage of the vehicles.
The Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organisation of various militant groups within Pakistan, and loosely allied to the Afghan Taliban, issued a statement claiming responsibility.
Baluchistan province has long been the scene of an insurgency by separatists fighting against the state to demand more of a share of the gas- and mineral-rich region’s resources. They also accuse the central government of discrimination.
The Taliban, Sunni Islam militants and sectarian groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group also operate in the strategically important region, which borders Iran as well as Afghanistan.
The violence has fuelled concern about security for projects in the $57 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan’s southern deep-water port of Gwadar.
A suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State at a Sufi Muslim shrine this month killed 22 people and wounded more than 30.
Ayub Qureshi, the provincial police chief, said a counter-terrorism police officer was shot and killed in another part of Quetta as authorities were dealing with the suicide bombing.
A militant sectarian faction, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Almi, claimed responsibility for killing the counter-terrorism official, and for planting a roadside bomb in a northwestern region, that killed two soldiers.
Security officials said a remote-controlled bomb was set off as an army vehicle passed by.
Additional reporting by Saud Mehsud, Jibran Ahmad and Asif Shahzad Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait