At least 14 people were reportedly killed, including three children, and more than 40 were injured in a bomb attack that took place outside a seminary in the Southwestern Baluchistan province in Quetta, Pakistan.
Most among the dead and wounded were students at the Jamia Islamia Maftah-ul-Uloom, a Sunni Muslim seminary in the satellite town of Sariab. The three children, who died in the incident, were said to have been aged between seven to 14 years.
According to reports, the bomb was fixed in a bicycle outside the seminary and it went off when hundreds of students, teachers and parents were attending a graduation ceremony to give away award certificates to students on completion of their basic religious education.
Deputy Inspector General Qazi Wahid reportedly told the Dawn that an unidentified militant had planted the bomb in a bicycle that was loaded with flower garlands brought for the ceremony. The militant was not able to enter the seminary as several police personnel were deployed for security outside the seminary.
According to police sources, around five to six kilograms of explosive material was used in the bomb. The blast was said to have been triggered by a timed device. The wounded were taken to the Civil Hospital, while 13 other civilians, who were critically injured, were taken to the Combined Mlitary Hospital (CMH) hospital. Emergency was imposed in all hospitals in the city.
So far, no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Quetta is the capital city of Balochistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan and the city is believed to be a refuge for several militant groups including the Tailban, the Baluchi separatist movement and Pakistan militants.
The seminary is said to belong to Sunni Muslims and the blast could have been a result of sectarian confrontation between the Sunni Muslims and Shias. Also Baluchistan province has witnessed several revolts between the renegade tribal elders and nationalists who have been demanding sovereignty and also a large share of the natural gas and oil extracted from their province.
According to an AFP report, at least 5,000 people have been killed in the bomb attacks blamed on the Islamist bombers in the last five years.