ISLAMABAD – Authorities in southwestern Pakistan said Wednesday that a powerful bomb had ripped through the parking area of a five-star hotel, killing at least four people and wounding about a dozen others.
The outlawed Pakistani Taliban militant group through its social media outlets claimed responsibility for the late-night suicide bombing at Serena Hotel in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province.
In a prepared statement, the militants identified a meeting of local and Chinese foreign officials as the intended target.
Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed condemned the attack as a terrorist act. He told a local television channel that the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan and his delegation were staying in the hotel, but he said the foreigners were attending an event elsewhere in the city at the time of the blast.
Ahmed said the bombing was a “major security breach” and a high-level investigation would be ordered to hold those responsible to account.
Police official Azhar Akram told reporters a “vehicle-borne” bomb was used to carry out the attack and the ensuing blast set ablaze several vehicles. A provincial police spokesperson said evidence collected at the scene indicated a suicide detonation.
Television footage showed burning cars at the city’s only upscale hotel, which is frequented by high-profile local and international delegations. The facility is located in a high-security zone of Quetta.
Hospital officials said several of those injured were listed in “critical condition” and feared the death toll could increase.
Ethnic Baluch secessionist groups also are waging an insurgency in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s natural resource-rich and largest province. The separatists routinely claim credit for plotting attacks against security forces and other installations.
Militants linked to a regional affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group also operate in the province, which is at the center of a multibillion-dollar infrastructure development project being funded by China.
The collaboration, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC, has built the deep-water Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Baluchistan and constructed new roads, as well as power plants elsewhere in the South Asia nation, over the past six years.