By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - At least three people were killed and 17 injured in a blast in southwestern Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, police said on Saturday
The blast took place on a main road near the local office of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), a mainstream religious political party, in the city of Chaman near the border with Afghanistan, local police officer Khalil Ahmad told Anadolu Agency on the phone.
"Three people including Maulana Mohammad Hanif, a key JUI-F leader, were killed while 17 others were wounded, including two children," he confirmed.
After being critically injured, Hanif was immediately taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, he added
All the wounded were taken to a local hospital in Chaman, but later those in critical condition were referred to Quetta, Balochistan’s provincial capital.
So far, no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The large Balochistan province, also considered to cover parts of neighboring Iran and Afghanistan, is strategically important due to its rich copper, zinc, and natural gas reserves.
Over the last decade, the province has faced a deadly wave of sectarian violence in which over 2,200 people have been killed.
The province is also a key route of the $64 billion mega-project, Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC), which aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to Balochistan’s port of Gwadar through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.