QUETTA: At least two people were killed and dozens injured Thursday when a suspected suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) rally in Quetta, police said.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman remained unhurt in the attack, which targeted his bullet-proof vehicle.
Banned militant group Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Eyewitnesses said the blast took place as thousands of JUI-F supporters left the venue at the end of the rally, which was held in honour of Mufti Mehmood at the Sadiq Shaheed stadium.
Inspector General Police Muhammad Amlaish Khan told Dawn that the suicide bomber tried to climb over the vehicle of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
"The bomber blew himself up when he failed to climb the vehicle and was stopped by JUI workers,” he said.
He said that owing to strict security measures, the suicide bomber failed to enter into the venue of the public meeting.
According to the bomb disposal squad, six to eight kilogram explosives were used in the attack. Police took body parts of the suicide bomber into their possession as investigation into the incident went underway.
According to reports from hospitals, two people – who were said to be JUI-F workers – were confirmed dead while up to 30 people were wounded in the attack.
The injured were shifted to Civil Hospital, where six were said to be in critical condition.
Speaking to a private TV channel, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman said that the blast targeted his vehicle as he was departing from the venue of the rally. He said that he and his colleagues survived the attack as they were riding in a bullet-proof vehicle.
“My car was badly damaged, almost destroyed. The windscreen of my car was completely cracked, we received a big shock but me and friends inside the car are safe and alive,“ he said
This was not the first time that Rehman, who is the leader of the largest religious group in Pakistan's parliament, has been targeted by terrorists.
The JUI-F chief has survived two previous attempts made on his life in March 2011, when two back to back suicide attacks targeted him.
The blast on Thursday was the third incident of terrorism of the day in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province which is plagued by a nationalist insurgency and extremist militancy.
Earlier today, militants gunned down eight members of the ethnic Hazara community in Hazar Ganji area of the city.
At least two other people were also killed in a separate gun-and-bomb attack on security forces near Qambrani road earlier in the day.