A bomber targeted an open-air market in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on Friday, killing at least 20 people and wounding nearly 50 others, police and hospital officials said. Nearly half the victims are Shia.
“It seems people from the Hazara community were the target,” senior police chief Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdur Razzaq Cheema said, adding that some of the victims were in critical condition. The Hazara minority follows the Shia sect of Islam and has been repeatedly targeted by terror attacks in the decades following the rise in militancy in Pakistan.
Cheema said the bomb, an improvised explosive device, was concealed inside a sack of potatoes.
An investigation was under way, the DIG said, adding the attack happened when shopkeepers were stacking produce.
Earlier reports indicated it might have been a suicide bombing.
A local police officer who was posted at the fruit market and survived the bomb said the area had been packed at the time of the blast early in the morning.
During the early hours, trucks arrive with vegetables brought in from outside the city, to be shifted by traders into smaller vehicles and delivered throughout Quetta.