A suicide bomber has struck the convoy of an Islamic party in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 40 others. Most of the victims were activists with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), a religious-based political party.
Police say Friday’s attack occurred in the town of Mastung, about 50 kilometers from the provincial capital of Quetta. The blast apparently was targeted at Abdul Ghaforr Haideri, the deputy Chairman of the Pakistani Senate, the upper house of parliament.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing.
The Senator was slightly wounded but driver and the director staff at the senate accompanying him both were killed, officials confirmed.
Haideri is a central leader of JUI-F, which is part of Pakistan’s ruling collation headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party.
The cleric told reporters he was returning from a graduation ceremony at a religious seminary when their convoy was struck.
“It was ally very sudden. I am injured but alive. God has saved my life. Broken pieces of the windscreen hit me. My driver and other people sitting next to me were very badly injured,” Haideri said.
Police and witnesses said the bomber was on a motorbike and his body parts have been retrieved from the site in the province of Baluchistan. It’s the largest of all four provinces where a number of militant groups operate, while ethnic Baloch insurgents often attack government installations.
IS has stepped up attacks lately in Pakistan. The Syria-based terrorist group also took credit for the suicide bombing of a Sufi shrine in the southern city of Sehwan in February that killed more than 70 people. Victims were mostly members of the minority Shi’ite Muslim community.
Baluchistan borders Afghanistan and Iran, and officials in both the countries have long alleged militants waging terrorist attacks on their soils operate out of the Pakistani province. Islamabad denies the charges.