ISLAMABAD— A powerful bomb ripped through a passenger train in Pakistan’s violence-hit southwestern Baluchistan province, killing at least 14 people and wounding many others. Police say women and children are among the dead.
Pakistani authorities and rescue workers say the bomb went off in a crowded carriage of the passenger train during its brief stopover in the town of Sibi.
A top local administration official, Deputy Commissioner Suhail Rehman, said the initial probe suggests the bomb was hidden in a passenger's bag and was detonated via remote-control.
He said the high-intensity blast also ignited a fire on the railcar that caused most of the deaths. The official added that rescue workers have taken more than 40 passengers to hospitals, describing the condition of some as “very critical.”
Authorities have launched an investigation into Tuesday's blast and suspect separatist Baluch militants are behind the deadly attack. And a spokesman for the United Baluch Army rebel group contacted VOA by phone to claim responsibility for the bombing.
The violence comes a day after security forces claimed to have killed up to 40 rebels in the insurgency-hit Khuzdar district of Baluchistan, some 250 kilometers from Sibi.
The resource-rich Pakistani province has been in the grip of a low-level separatist insurgency for years. Nationalist Baluch groups in the poverty-stricken region have long accused the federal government of extracting Baluchistan’s natural resources, but paying no attention to the plight of the local population.
The rebels routinely attack security forces, government installations and civilian targets in Baluchistan and target Pakistanis from other ethnic groups settled in the province.
Security forces in the region are often criticized for alleged human rights abuses such as illegal detentions, torture and the execution of ethnic Baluch, charges Pakistani authorities reject.