A bomb explosion at a pro-Palestine rally in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan has left at least six people dead and 14 others injured.
The deadly blast occurred in Chaman, a town near the border with Afghanistan, on Friday, as people gathered to voice support for Palestinians following Israeli violence and the bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.
“It was an improvised explosive device which went off as participants began to disperse,” provincial official Tariq Mengal said, referring to the bomb used in the attack.
A second official also confirmed the incident and the toll.
Thousands of people rallied in support of Palestinians across Pakistan on Friday, hours after a ceasefire was announced between Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, which ended 11 days of relentless aerial strikes and shelling by the Israeli regime and retaliatory attacks by Palestinian resistance groups.
The demonstration in Chaman was organized by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party. Local news networks, citing police, reported that the bomb targeted the car of the party’s Vice President Maulana Abdul Qadir Loni, but he was not killed or wounded in the explosion.
The latest development comes just weeks after a car bomb exploded at a luxury hotel where the Chinese ambassador to the country was reportedly staying in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province. That attack was later claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group, which has ties to al-Qaeda.
Chaman has long served as a gateway for Afghan Taliban militants entering Afghanistan from their alleged shelters in Balochistan, where the group’s leadership council is believed to be based.
Pakistan’s restive and mineral-rich Balochistan Province is rife with separatist, extremist, and sectarian violence and has been the scene of several bomb and gun attacks over the past years.
Balochistan was rocked by a series of terrorist attacks in late 2016, raising fears about an increasing presence of armed militants in the area, including terrorists linked to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
Baloch separatist groups and militants in the province have also been engaged in a decades-long campaign against the central government. Despite frequent offensives by the Pakistani army, acts of terror by militants continue to target security forces as well as civilians.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered into an alliance with the United States in Washington’s so-called war on terror. Thousands more have been displaced by the wave of violence sweeping the country.