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Pakistan bomb kills at least 11


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The damaged military truck after the explosion in the center of Quetta.
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LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- A bomb blast at an outdoor market in Western Pakistan has killed at least 11 people, and wounded more than two dozen.

Officials in the city of Quetta say the device was hidden on a bicycle parked next to an army vehicle.

A group calling itself the Baluchistan National Army claimed responsibility and said it was targeting military personnel.

Most of the dead, however, were civilians.

Four of the injured in Friday's explosion are in critical condition.

Four vehicles, including the army truck, were destroyed by the bomb.

The explosive material in the incident weighed between 15 to 20 kilograms, sources told CNN.

Witnesses said the blast in the main city in Pakistan's Baluchistan province occurred in the center of the city.

Several people were killed on the spot, while others died in hospital, doctors told Reuters.

At least 10 shops in a business district were also damaged, witnesses told the news agency.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said the blast was perpetrated by people "working against peace and development in the country," and called on security agencies to capture those responsible.

Quetta mayor Rahim Kakar blamed "nationalists who don't want to see progress in Baluchistan."

The dead included one soldier and nine vendors and passers-by, Pervez Bhatti, a senior police official, told Pakistan's private Geo television

Human body parts and blood were splattered around the busy square, which was sealed off by the security forces.

"It was a mighty explosion," Abdullah, a witness who gave only one name, told Reuters. "I saw people screaming and running and the dead and the wounded strewn on the road."

Naeemullah Khan said his father, a shopkeeper, was killed in the blast. "He was badly wounded and was covered with blood. I rushed him to hospital, but doctors couldn't save his life," he told Reuters, wailing

Information Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said the government condemned what he called "a heinous act of terrorism."

He said it was too early to allot blame for the blast, but added: "The people responsible will not go unpunished."

Baluchistan has been hit by a series of low-level bombings in recent years, most of which have not caused any casualties and have been blamed on feuding tribesmen, AP reported.

However, AP said, there are signs that the region has become a base for Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.

On December 1, police and intelligence agents exchanged fire with two suspected Chechen militants hiding in a home on the outskirts of Quetta.

One militant died and the other was arrested. Eleven policemen were injured when the militants hurled grenades during the raid.

The city has also been rocked by sectarian violence, AP reported.

In March, suspected Sunni militants fired at a Shiite procession in Quetta, killing 44 people and wounding 150.

And in July 2003, attackers armed with machine guns and grenades stormed a Shiite mosque in the city, killing 50 people praying inside.

Other small-scale explosions, AP said, have been blamed on nationalists who oppose setting up new army garrisons in the province and are trying to pressure authorities to get more returns from gas extracted from their region.

A little-known group, The Baluchistan National Army, has claimed responsibility for some of the previous attacks.

CNN Producer Syed Mohsin Naqvi contributed to this report


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