The death toll of a vegetable market blast Friday morning in Quetta in Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province has surged to 20, provincial home minister said.
Mir Zia Ullah Langau, the minister, said that 48 people were also injured in the blast that hit the busy market.
He said that the killed people included a serviceman of paramilitary troops Frontier Corps (FC) whereas four FC soldiers were also injured in the attack.
A senior security official in Quetta told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity that the attack seemed to be the outcome of a recent operation against a proscribed organization in which two important militants were arrested.
He added that security had been beefed up across the city including the targeted market where FC personnel were deployed due to expected retaliation after the arrest.
The security official said that the attack was carried out by the explosion of an improvised explosive device hidden in a vegetable bag. However, in the press conference after the blast, the home minister said it was a suicide blast.
The injured people were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta, whose spokesperson Waseem Baig said that most of the injured people got wounds in their limbs.
The attack happened in Quetta's Hazarganji, which is home to a large number of people from the Hazara Community of minority Shiite Muslims. The community often came under attack by sectarian militants group.
Deputy Inspector General of Quetta Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema told local media that being vulnerable to sectarian attacks, people from the community are routinely escorted by the FC to busy markets, and the same happened on Friday as the forces were escorting 11 cars of the community to the market.
No organization or individual claimed responsibility for the attack yet. Local reports said that the militant group of Pakistan Taliban has often struck at Shiites community on religious grounds. A security source suspected that the Islamic State (IS) might be the culprit based on the information they obtained.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi deplored the loss of lives in the attack. The prime minister also directed relevant authorities to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured people.
Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan also condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with the victims. He promised a swift action against the perpetrators of the incident.