A suicide bomber has detonated his explosives near a security checkpoint in restive southwestern Pakistan, killing at least three paramilitary personnel and wounding 15 others.
The attacker walked towards the checkpoint manned by the paramilitary Frontier Corps on Quetta-Mastung Road, 25km (15 miles) south of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, senior police officer Azhar Akram said on Sunday.
A suicide bomber on a motorcycle packed with 6kg of explosives rammed one of the vehicles in a convoy, Akram said.
He said some of the wounded were in critical condition and the death toll could rise, adding body parts were found at a distance from the security post after the bombing.
Banned armed group Pakistan Taliban, known by the acronym TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack.
It was the first time TTP claimed an attack on Pakistani security forces since the Taliban – a separate organisation – took control of neighbouring Afghanistan.
TTP, which renewed its allegiance to the Afghan Taliban after the fall of Kabul, has recently stepped up its campaign against the Pakistani army.
“Condemn the TTP suicide attack on FC checkpost in Mastung Road, Quetta,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a tweet.
Balochistan has also seen a low-level armed uprising by Baloch separatist groups for nearly 20 years, calling for independence for the gas and mineral-rich province. Most attacks on security forces in Balochistan in the recent past have been claimed by Baloch separatist groups Balochistan Liberation Army and Balochistan Liberation Front.
Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is a key province in southwest Pakistan, where China has been working on projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The projects, including road construction, power plants and agricultural development, have cost billions of dollars.
China has in recent years also played a key role in developing the deep-water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. But there have been attacks on Pakistanis and Chinese working on the economic corridor projects.
A suicide bomber last month detonated his explosives near a vehicle carrying Chinese workers, killing two Pakistani children playing by the roadside and wounding a Chinese national and two other Pakistanis in the port city of Gwadar.
Suspected separatists also last month hurled a hand grenade at a store selling national flags in Quetta, killing one man and wounding four others who were buying flags to celebrate Pakistan’s independence day.