Police have said that at least eight people were killed in a bomb blast outside a seminary in southwestern Pakistan.

Ghulam Mohammed, a senior police official, said more than 30 people were also wounded in Thursday's attack in Quetta, which is the capital of the impoverished Balochistan province. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

Hundreds of students were gathered inside the Jamia Islamia Maftah-ul-Uloom seminary at the time of the explosion, according to local officials.

Balochistan borders Afghanistan to the west and is believed to be a hiding place for Taliban and Pakistani armed groups.

Baluch rebels rose up in the province in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from oil, gas and mineral resources in the region.

Despite its resources, the province is one of the poorest in Pakistan, and human rights activists have heavily condemned the military for summary arrests and executions in its bid to put down the separatist insurgency.

Pakistan sits on the frontline of the US-led war on al-Qaeda and since July 2007 has been gripped by a local Taliban-led insurgency, concentrated largely in the northwest.

In the last five years, attacks blamed on Taliban-linked bombers have killed more than 5,000 people, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.

Source: Agencies