A powerful blast targeting a police vehicle in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province has killed five people, including two security personnel, and injured 38 others, a top police official said on Wednesday.
The blast took place close to a police vehicle at the Bacha Khan Chowk in the remit of the City Police Station on Tuesday, Quetta's Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of police Abdul Razzaq Cheema said.
The target of the blast appeared to be the Station House Officer (SHO) of the area who received some injuries and has been shifted to a hospital, the DIG told reporters.
"The bomb went off as soon as SHO Shaffat got down from his vehicle," he said, adding that the condition of the SHO is said to be critical.
Cheema said it was too early to confirm whether it was a suicide attack or the blast caused by a remotely triggered device.
Police said the bomb was planted in a motorcycle parked close to the patrolling vehicle. Five people, including two cops, were killed and 38 others injured in the attack.
Three people died on the spot, police said.
The injured included women and children who were passing through the area when the bomb went off in the heart of the city. The condition of at least six of them was stated to be serious.
Earlier, police officials said terrorists had planted explosives in a motorcycle and parked it near the police vehicle before it was detonated.
A contingent of the law enforcement agencies threw a security cordon around the area as rescuers continued evacuations.
The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the blast, according to a report in a leading Pakistani daily.
The injured and bodies of the dead were shifted to the Civil Hospital, where officials confirmed the death toll.
The impact of the blast was so strong that it shattered the glass windows of nearby shopping malls and damaged parked vehicles and motorcycles.
Home Minister Mir Zia Langove said the government would not be cowed down by such attacks and the mission to purge the province of the menace of terrorism would continue.
Balochistan Governor retired Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and his cabinet members strongly condemned the bomb blast and expressed their grief and sorrow over the loss of lives of innocent people.
It was the second bomb explosion within the last seven days in the provincial capital. On July 23, a blast had occurred in the Eastern Bypass area which left four people dead and 32 injured.
Balochistan has been wrecked by ethnic, sectarian and separatist violence for more than a decade.