QUETTA: A suicide attack targeted a security forces' vehicle near the premises of the heavily guarded Quetta district courts on Saturday.
At least eight people, including two Frontier Corps (FC) personnel, were killed on the spot and at least 35 others were wounded in the powerful explosion. Later, another wounded person succumbed to his injuries in a hospital bringing the death toll to nine.
DIG Imtiaz Shah confirmed it was a suicide attack and said the attacker blew himself up near a vehicle belonging to the FC.
The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to journalists. The claim could not be independently verified.
Balochistan province's home secretary Akbar Durrani told journalists that six people were injured in the blast.
"We can not ascertain right now whether it was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or a suicide bomb attack," said Akbar Durrani.
The blast partially damaged the security forces' vehicle and shattered the window panes of nearby buildings.
Television footage showed several wounded FC personnel being shifted from the scene.
Rescue and emergency teams reached the blast site. An emergency was declared in all nearby hospitals, while the wounded have been shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta.
All the injured were rushed to Civil hospital Quetta for medical treatment. Dr. Rasheed Jamali, an on-duty physician in the hospital told DawnNews that eight people among the injured were in serious condition and were moved to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) for medical treatment
Traffic in the area is usually jam-packed with a market, district ans sessions courts and a number of government building situated in the vicinity.
The explosion was heard in a wide area.
Inspector General Froniter Corps General Sher Afgan while talking to media confirmed that it was a suicide attack, adding that the terrorists are attacking soft targets as the successes achieved by armed forces and FC during anti-terror operation have destroyed their power.
"Such attacks cannot dampen our spirits as we will continue fighting these elements till the establishment of peace in Balochistan," said General Sher Afgan.
Condemnations pour in
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other political leaders condemned the blast.
In statement released from PM House, the prime minster while condemning the attack, directed authorities to give best medical treatment to the injured. The PM also directed law enforcement officials to hunt down the culprits responsible for this terror attack .
PPP Chairman, in his condemnation statement, said that terrorism is menace and can only be eliminated by standing united and strengthening democracy.
Bilawal Bhutto expressed sympathies with with the members of the bereaved families and prayed for the early recovery of injured.
Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan. The province has been experiencing incident violence and targeted killings since more than a decade.
The largest province of the country by area, is home to a low-level insurgency by ethnic Baloch separatists. Al Qaeda-linked and sectarian militants also operate in the region.
The province shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.