A suicide car bombing in Pakistan has killed two Shia Muslims in the country's first apparent sectarian attack of 2014.

The attack took place on Wednesday in Akhtarabad, on the outskirts of Quetta in Balochistan, and targeted a passenger bus carrying Shia Muslims who were returning from a pilgrimage to Iran.

"An explosive-laden car which was parked along the roadside blew up as the bus passed by it, killing two people and wounding 17," Abdul Razzaq Cheema, Quetta police chief, told AFP news agency.

He said that the 17 injured included four policemen.

Police officials who had been escorting the bus rescued passengers from the wreckage before it caught fire, Cheema said.

The bus was bringing back about 50 pilgrims from Iran.

Commander Razzaq, local bomb-disposal chief, told AFP that the car had been blown up by somebody sitting in it.

Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistani media reported that President Mamnoon Hussain and Nawaz Sharif, prime minister, as condemning the attack and the Shia political party Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen announcing a three-day period of mourning over the incident.

There has been a rise in sectarian violence in Pakistan after fighting between Sunni and Shia Muslim groups near Islamabad in November last year.

Two huge bomb attacks in Quetta in January and February last year targeting Shia from the Hazara ethnic community killed almost 200 people.

Source: AFP