By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - At least 15 people were killed and some 25 injured in an attack on an army vehicle in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday night, according to army officials and local media.
The powerful blast struck a military vehicle at a busy street in Quetta -- the capital of southwestern Balochistan province -- killing at least 15 people, provincial government’s spokesman, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar told reporters.
According to the Pakistan army, terrorists attacked the military vehicle with incendiary explosive. The military's media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a statement the dead included eight troops and seven civilians.
Among the injured, there were 10 troops, the statement added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, however Taliban militants, and Baloch separatists have been involved in attacks on security forces in the recent past.
Mohammad Irfan, an eyewitness from Civil Hospital Quetta, told Anadolu Agency by telephone that at least four bodies were badly burned and beyond recognition.
Several cars parked at the site caught fire after the blast, which also smashed window shutters and doors of the nearby buildings and shops.
Provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti told local Dunya TV that emergency was imposed in all Quetta hospitals, and additional paramedics were called in.
Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa termed the attack an attempt to mar the Aug. 14 Independence Day celebrations. He said Pakistan army would not "succumb to any challenge".
The large Balochistan province, which is also considered to cover parts of neighboring Iran and Afghanistan, is strategically important because of the rich presence of copper, zinc and natural gas but has beset by violence for over six decades, with separatists claiming that it was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan at the end of British rule in 1947.
Various sectarian outfits, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, have also been active in the region, especially in Quetta for the last decade.