Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 20 people have been killed and another 40 wounded as an explosion ripped through a market in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, a provincial official says, the latest attack to target the city’s minority Hazara community.
Announcing the death toll, provincial minister Zia Langove said: “Four or five [of the wounded] are in critical condition.”
The explosion took place as Hazaras, who are Shia Muslims, were buying vegetables early on Friday morning.
“Members of the Hazara community go to the market every day to shop, and we provide them with a security escort,” Quetta police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema told Al Jazeera by telephone.
“They were at the market as police and [paramilitary] Frontier Corps soldiers patrolled the area. There was a store selling potatoes, and that is where the explosion has taken place.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the bombing through its Amaq website on Saturday.
Images from the scene of the explosion showed blood sprayed across the dirt floor of the market, damaged vehicles and sacks of potatoes split open by the force of the blast.
Cheema said police would not know whether the bomb was planted or a suicide attack until investigating teams, who had cordoned off the site, completed their analysis.
“The bomb appeared to have been set in the potato sacks, but we cannot rule out whether it was a suicide attack just yet,” he said.
At least seven members of the Hazara community and one paramilitary soldier were among those killed, he said.
At a press conference later he said there had been no warning the market might be attacked.
“There are a lot of general security threats issued, but for this place, there was no specific threat.”