Karachi: Pakistan's Senate deputy chairman on Friday escaped an assassination attempt with injuries when a powerful blast damaged his car, killing 25 people and wounding 35 others in the volatile south-western Balochistan province.
The blast targeted Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri when he came out of a mosque after addressing a gathering shortly after the Friday prayers in Mastung area of the province.
The area where the explosion took place is approximately 70 kilometres from provincial capital Quetta. Mastung Hospital PRO Malik Jibran said that 20 dead and over 35 injured were brought to the hospital.
He said more than 15 injured were in critical condition. Senior police officer Abdul Razzaq Cheema said that 30-40 people were injured. He said Haideri was slightly injured.
Haideri belongs to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Most of the people killed were workers of his party.
Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani said that it was suicide attack which targeted the deputy chairman. "I have talked to the chief secretary of Balochistan and asked him to airlift Haideri to Quetta," he said. Citing sources, Geo TV said Haideri has been shifted to the Civil hospital.
Haideri later told Dunya TV in a brief chat that he received minor injuries. "It was a powerful explosion. I have received injured but I am safe. I am sorry for the death of innocent of people," he said.
TV footage showed Haideri's vehicle was badly damaged. His driver was killed in the attack. The District Police Officer Mastung, Ghazanfar Ali, said Haideri escaped as he was not sitting in the car when the blast took place.
"It could be a suicide bomb attack but it is too early to say for sure," he said. Islamic State group says on its Aamaq news agency it carried out the attack.
Balochistan government spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar said it was too early to say anything about the nature of the attack. "Probe has been launched to determine the nature of the bombing," he added.
Balochistan has been hit hard by attacks from terrorists and separatists in recent years and Mastung has seen a lot of unrest despite constant security operations in the area.