Explosion targets mosque in Pakistan’s Quetta

Explosion targets mosque in Pakistan’s Quetta

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Islamabad, Pakistan – At least three people have been killed and 28 wounded after a bomb exploded at a mosque in the western Pakistani city of Quetta.

The explosion took place inside a mosque before Friday prayers, city police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema told Al Jazeera by phone, adding that at least three of the wounded were in critical condition.

Local police official Tauseef Farman told Al Jazeera an explosive device went off next to the prayer leader, who was among those killed.

The area was cordoned off by security forces shortly after the explosion, and a bomb disposal unit was conducting investigations, Cheema said.

Video footage from the scene showed debris from the blast strewn within the mosque, with ceiling tiles lying smashed on the floor.

Regular violence

Quetta is the capital of Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and least populated province that is also rich in mineral and fuel resources.

It has seen regular violence in recent years, with attacks claimed by Baloch separatists, Pakistan Taliban and local affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS).

The province has been at the centre of a series of recent attacks that have killed at least 10 people.

Last week, at least four policemen died when their vehicles were targeted by an explosion as they stood guard outside a mosque during evening prayers.

On May 12, Baloch separatist attackers stormed a five-star hotel in the southern port city of Gwadar, killing at least five people, including a Navy soldier.

Pakistani security forces engaged in an hours-long gun battle with the attackers, with the siege ending after three attackers were killed.

Balochistan is seeing a number of new infrastructure projects erected, including the port at Gwadar, as part of the $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, a joint venture between the Pakistani and Chinese governments.__Al Jazeera

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