x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 December 2017

At least 15 dead in ISIL attack on Pakistan army vehicle

A suicide motorbike bomber was behind the blast in Quetta, south west Pakistan

Pakistani volunteers and soldiers carry a blast victim in Quetta, Pakistan
Pakistani volunteers and soldiers carry a blast victim in Quetta, Pakistan

At least people were killed and 32 others wounded in a powerful blast which targeted a military vehicle in south west Pakistan.

ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened on Saturday in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province

The Pakistani military said the explosion targeted an on-duty vehicle at a bus stop and set fire to several others nearby.

It read: "Incendiary explosive was used. As a result nearby vehicles caught fire. Fifteen people including seven civilians were martyred."

Provincial home minister Sarfraz Bugti and government spokesman Anwar ul Haq Kakar confirmed the death toll and put the number of wounded at 32.

The Islamic State Khorasan Province - the Middle Eastern group's affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan - released a statement claiming the attack, according to the US-based monitoring group SITE.

A suicide motorbike bomber was behind the blast, the statement said.

The local affiliate has been known to work with Pakistani militant groups in previous attacks.

Minister Bugti said firefighters were still working to put out the blaze. The nature of the blast could not immediately be determined but an investigation was underway, he said.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa and deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif all condemned the attack.

The blast came two days before Pakistan's 70th Independence Day, and the military chief said it was an effort to mar celebrations.

"Our resolve won't succumb to any challenge," he said in a statement.

Militants in past have carried out big attacks on Independence Day and other events of national importance.

ISIL militants and the Taliban have attacked Quetta city in the past.

Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has oil and gas resources but is afflicted by Islamist militancy, sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and a separatist insurgency.