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Attack on army vehicle kills 15 in SW Pakistan: official

© AFP | The blast occurred at a bus stop in provincial capital Quetta and the area caught fire soon after the explosion

QUETTA (PAKISTAN) (AFP) - 

A powerful blast targeting a military vehicle on Saturday night killed at least 15 people and wounded 32 others in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, officials said.

The blast occurred at a bus stop in the provincial capital Quetta and the area caught fire soon after the explosion.

A statement by the Pakistani military said the explosion targeted an on-duty vehicle and set several other vehicles on fire.

"Incendiary explosive was used. As a result nearby vehicles caught fire. 15 people including 7 civilians were martyred," the statement said, adding that 25 people including 15 civilians had been injured and taken to a military hospital.

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

Bugti said firefighters were working to put out the blaze.

The nature of the blast could not immediately be determined but an investigation was underway, Bugti 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.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban and Islamic State militants have attacked Quetta city in the past.

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

© 2017 AFP