At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured when a bomb claimed by a Sunni Muslim militant group ripped through a fruit market in the Pakistani city of Quetta on Friday.
The attack hit the city’s Hazarganji district, which is home to a large community from the Hazara Shia Muslim minority, Quetta’s Deputy Inspector General of Police, Razzaq Cheema, told CNN.
At least seven Hazara were among the dead, along with one security official, Cheema said.
In a news conference, Ziaullah Langove, home minister for Balochistan, said it was a suicide attack, confirmed the death toll and added that as many as 48 people were injured.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group known to target the Hazara community, said it carried out the bombing.
“We claim responsibility for the attack in Quetta,” Qari Saifullah, a spokesman for the group, told CNN. “We targeted the Hazara community.”
Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Balochistan, is often targeted by militants, although this was the first such attack this year. “We will not bow before terrorists,” Balochistan’s chief minister, Jam Kamal, said in a statement shortly after the bombing.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed the condemnation. In a tweet he wrote: “Deeply saddened & have strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Hazarganji market area of Quetta targeting our innocent people. I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the (people). Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured.”
In December 2017, a suicide bomber attacked a church packed with worshipers, leaving seven people dead. Just months later, another bomber attacked police and troops in the city, killing six officers and injuring eight.
In July last year, 149 people were killed and 186 injured in a suicide attack in the Mastung area south of Quetta, which targeted the convoy of a political candidate.
ISIS claimed responsibility for that bombing, the second deadliest terror attack in Pakistan’s history.
Journalist Syed Ali Shah in Quetta contributed to this report.