Islamabad, Feb 16 (IANS) At least 58 people were killed and over 176 others injured when a blast hit a market area in Pakistan's Quetta city Saturday evening, reported Xinhua citing local media. The toll was expected to rise further.
The death toll may further rise as two markets comprising over 60 shops were levelled to ground following the blast, burying dozens of people under the debris, Xinhua quoted local Urdu TV channel Dunya as saying. Several of the injured were also in a critical condition.
Rescue work was under way on the blast site with teams striving hard to pull out the people stranded in the rubbles.
Wazir Khan, deputy inspector general of Quetta police, said that the blast was triggered off by a remote controlled device and the explosive materials were fixed in a rickshaw.
He said that the explosion happened in a town where a vast population of Hazara community of Shia Muslims is settled.
Local media quoted unidentified police sources as saying that an estimated over 100 kg of explosive materials were used in the blast.
Following the blast, angry Shia protestors cordoned off the area and did not allow police, rescue teams and media to reach the blast site.
The protestors said that Hazara community was targeted dozens of times in Quetta over the last two years in which hundreds of innocent Shia Muslims lost their lives, but the government failed to provide adequate security to them.
All the injured people, including over 30 women and children, have been shifted to a military hospital of Quetta for security concerns.
According to hospital sources, the death toll may further rise as several people among the injured were in critical condition.
Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, a group of Shia Muslims announced a three-day mourning over the incident and gave a strike call in Quetta on Sunday.
No group claimed responsibility for the blast yet.
The bomb went off at about 5:40 p.m. (local time) at Karani road area of Quetta, the provincial capital of the country's southwest Balochistan province.
This is the second major blast, targeting Shia Muslims in the area since the beginning of this month.