At least two policemen were killed and nearly two dozen others wounded in a blast in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan in southwestern Pakistan, officials say.
“At least two policemen were killed in the blast in Quetta,” Liaquat Shahwani, spokesman for the Balochistan government, said in a statement on Sunday.
Another 21 people, including 12 policemen, were injured, said Wasim Baig, a provincial health department spokesperson.
The injured have been moved to the city’s Civil Hospital, a senior police official said.
Shahwani said four passersby were also wounded in the blast that targeted the police mobile van at Tanzeem Square near the upscale Serena Hotel.
The bomb, which was planted on a motorcycle, went off near a van full of policemen, a local police official said, adding that the windows of nearby buildings were shattered by the explosion.
Security agencies have cordoned off the area and launched a manhunt to arrest the culprits, Shahwani said.
Balochistan, which shares a border with both Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest and most volatile province.
It faces a multifaceted threat from armed groups, including the Taliban, Sunni fighters targeting Shia Muslims, and nationalist rebels seeking independence for their province.
The violence is partly seen as a response by rebels to Beijing’s investment plans linking China’s Xinjiang province with the Gulf of Oman via Balochistan by way of a network of roads and rail tracks.