The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed at least 12 people, 11 of them police personnel, just outside Quetta in the southwest of the country.
The bomb, containing about 100kg of explosives, targeted a lorry carrying members of a government paramilitary force on Thursday on the Northern Bypass road.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said the bomb was detonated remotely.
“That particular attack took place at a time when the area was full of ordinary people,” he said.
“Many of those wounded also included civilians,” said our correspondent, adding that while a separatist group from Balochistan was suspected of being behind the attack, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Quetta is the capital of the province of Balochistan, bordering Afghanistan and Iran.
The province is considered one of the most deprived parts of Pakistan, which suffers from Taliban violence, a separatist insurgency and sectarian unrest.
Chinese premier’s speech
In a separate development on Thursday, Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, addressed Pakistan’s parliament and met Nawaz Sharif, the incoming prime minister.
Li, on the final day of a short visit to his country’s long-time ally, told the Senate that China was ready to speed up work to improve the Karakorum Highway, which links the two countries.
“We want to not only expand our trade relations but also achieve dynamic balance in our trade,” he told senators after holding talks with Sharif and senior PML-N leaders.
The previous day, Li linked Pakistani development with that in China’s western region and said he wanted to create an “economic corridor” between the two countries, and invited Sharif to visit Beijing in order to strengthen economic ties.