A powerful bomb exploded in the parking lot of a luxury hotel in the southwestern city of Pakistan in Quetta on Wednesday, killing at least four people and wounding at least nine others, police said.
Security forces rushed to the Serena hotel and no one was allowed to approach the blast site. Police said rescuers transported victims to nearby hospitals. Pictures on Pakistan news channels showed cars burning.
Hours after the attack, the Taliban from Pakistan in a statement claimed responsibility, saying it was a suicide attack. The Pakistani insurgency, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, is a separate rebel group from the Afghan Taliban.
Senior police officer Azhar Akram said officers were trying to determine if the bomb was planted in a vehicle parked in the hotel car park. He did not provide any further details, saying the police are still investigating. Other security officials said the bomb had exploded minutes after a car entered the car park, and that authorities were investigating to determine if it was a suicide attack.
Wasim Beg, a spokesman for the province’s health department, said four people died and 12 were wounded in the bombing.
It was unclear who was behind the attack. The Southwestern province of Baluchistan is a long-standing rebellion scene by secessionist groups like the Baluchistan Liberation Front and the Baluchistan Liberation Army. They have for decades carried out attacks to press their demands for independence. Pakistan’s Taliban group and Islamic State also have a presence there.
No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attack in the provincial capital.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed quickly blamed neighboring India for bombing the hotel, though he provided no evidence to support the allegation. She told the Geo news channel of Pakistan that Pakistan had only one enemy and that it was in neighboring India, which she claimed was behind the bombing. Ahmed said that they had received information about possible attacks in the capital, Islamabad and elsewhere and that the information had been shared with relevant authorities to improve beef safety
Liaquat Shahwani, a provincial government spokesman, called the attack an act of terrorism. “Terrorists want to disrupt peace in Baluchistan. Those who do not want to see progress and prosperity in the province of Baluchistan are responsible for this act of terrorism. “
Jam Kamal Khan, a prime minister in Baluchistan, took to Twitter to condemn the bombing. Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said authorities were investigating and a statement would be issued at a later date.
Baluchistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove said Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong was staying in the hotel at the time of the bombing but it was unclear what the motive behind the attack was. He said no guests were injured but a policeman was among four people who died in the attack.
The hotel is frequented by foreigners as it is the city’s only luxury hotel and is considered safe.
Arbab Kamran Kasi, a doctor at Quetta’s main hospital, said about a dozen wounded were stolen and had declared an emergency at the hospital to treat victims.
The bombing in Quetta came hours after Pakistan and neighboring Iran opened a new border crossing point in Maluchistan to improve trade and economic relations. Baluchistan shares a border with Iran and Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Taliban has been targeting the army and civilians nationwide since 2001, when this Islamic nation joined the US-led war on terror following the September 11 attack in the United States. Since then, the rebels have declared war on the Pakistan government and carried out numerous attacks. Pakistan’s militant groups are often linked over the border in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is nearing completion of a fence along the border with Afghanistan, which Islamabad says is necessary to prevent militant attacks from both sides. Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan often accuse each other of turning a blind eye to Islamic militants operating along the permeable border.