Blast kills several at pro-Palestine rally in southwest Pakistan

At least 17 people were wounded after explosives planted in a motorbike went off in the town of Chaman.

A police officer surveys the site after a bomb blast in Chaman, a Pakistani town on the border with Afghanistan [Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters]

Quetta/Islamabad, Pakistan – A bomb blast has killed at least seven people at a pro-Palestinian rally in the southwestern Pakistani border town of Chaman, police and hospital officials said.

The explosion took place as participants of the rally, organised by a regional religious political party, were dispersing, police official Muhammad Iqbal told Al Jazeera.

“There was a rally there, and as soon as it was ending and people were dispersing that is when the blast occurred,” he said via telephone.

Iqbal said the explosives had been planted in a motorcycle parked near the location of the rally.

The death toll stood at seven killed and 17 wounded, local hospital official Akhtar Muhammad told Al Jazeera. The condition of three of the wounded is critical and they have been moved to the provincial capital, Quetta, about 100km (62 miles) southeast of Chaman.

A small town of about 150,000 residents in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, Chaman is one of the main border crossings between Pakistan and its northwestern neighbour Afghanistan.

Men gather to identify the body of a relative who was killed in a bomb blast in Chaman [Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters]

Abdul Qadir Loni, the regional chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam religious party’s Nazriati faction (JUI-N), which was hosting the rally, told Al Jazeera via telephone that the blast occurred as he was leaving the venue.

Loni said he heard a loud explosion and was hurried into his vehicle, and that he had faced threats to his life in recent months.

Local police official Maqsood Ahmed confirmed that the blast took place at the conclusion of the rally.

Rallies in support of Palestinians were held across Pakistan on Friday, as the country marked Palestine Day in solidarity with the people of Gaza following the 11-day conflict with Israel in which at least 243 Palestinians in Gaza and 12 Israelis were killed.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least populated province, and has seen several attacks in recent months.

Pakistan’s military has been battling an armed ethnic separatist movement in the province for more than a decade, and elements of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies have also claimed attacks in the province in the past.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Source: Al Jazeera