Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 13 people have been injured after a bomb blast derailed a passenger train in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan.
The bomb exploded after midday (07:00 GMT) on Friday as the Jaffar Express passenger train was passing through the Bolan district, more than 150 kilometres (more than 90 miles) from the provincial capital Quetta, authorities said.
The train was travelling to Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The explosion derailed eight train cars, including the engine, a local official said.
“We have shifted those with minor injuries to the Civil-Military Hospital in nearby city of Sibi, while the two gravely injured people were sent to Quetta,” Agha Samiullah, deputy commissioner for the Bolan district, told Al Jazeera by phone.
Samiullah said that the rescue operation would be completed soon and expressed hope that the railway track will be operational later at night.
“We are sending the passengers to Quetta city by bus,” he added.
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo in a statement condemned the attack and ordered the local administration to provide immediate rescue services.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province and has the highest poverty rate in the country. The region is also the hub of a decades-old separatist movement.
The rebels have been fighting the government for decades, demanding a separate state and saying the central government unfairly exploits Balochistan’s rich gas and mineral resources.
Separately, there are growing security concerns in the province after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) armed group announced last November that they would unilaterally end the ceasefire with the government.
The group, which was formed in 2007 and is ideologically aligned with Afghan Taliban, carried out an attack on a police vehicle in Quetta days after the announcement.