QUETTA -- An explosion targeting a police vehicle in Quetta on Friday (June 23) killed at least 13 people and injured about 20 others, officials said.
The explosion occurred in front of the office of the police chief in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, a province that borders Iran and Afghanistan and is rife with separatist and Islamist insurgency.
"Eleven people have died... and at least 20 others are injured," Fareed Ahmed, medical superintendent at Civil Hospital, told AFP.
Four police officers were among the dead, while three others remain in critical condition, he said.
Police said their vehicle was targeted in the attack but added they did not yet know the nature of the explosion.
The blast was claimed by both the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) Khorasan branch and by Jamatul Ahrar, an offshoot of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to the SITE monitoring group. There was no immediate explanation for the dual claims.
Maulana Naqeebullah, a scholar in Quetta, called the attack "highly condemnable".
"The terrorists involved in such attacks are enemies of Islam; they should not be called human beings," he told Pakistan Forward. "Targeting innocent people on the occasion of Juma-tul-Wida [the last Friday in Ramadan] shows the inhuman designs of anti-peace and anti-Islam elements."
Terrorists and militants are misleading the public and are not Muslims, he said, adding that Islam is a religion of mercy and does not permit such violent acts.
"Spreading terrorism in the name of Islam is an attempt to defame Islamic ideology," he said. "No one can justify these terrorist activities according to Islam."
"This is the time for all society to be united and support law enforcement agencies in on-going actions against militant groups," he said.
"Police and other law enforcement personnel are offering their services for the security of the state and the masses," he said. "The duties of security personnel are part of a noble cause that the teachings of Islam emphasise heavily."
"The state must take strict action against those groups involved in killing the innocent," he added.
[Abdul Ghani Kakar from Quetta contributed to this report.]
What is the biggest challenge to Pakistan in 2018?