At least 20 people have been killed in an attack targeting the minority Hazara Shia Muslim community in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta.
As Reported by Qods News Agency (Qodsna) An additional 48 people were wounded in the Friday blast which occurred in the capital of the country’s restive Baluchistan province.
The bomb was hidden among bags of potatoes at a vegetable market on the outskirts of the city.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist group, which has targeted the Hazara community in the past, claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We claim responsibility for the attack in Quetta," said a spokesman for the group named Qari Saifullah, speaking to CNN.
"We targeted the Hazara community," he stressed.
The bombing came after a lull of at least a year in terrorist attacks, though there have been isolated shootings targeting the Hazaras.
Balochistan's chief minister Jam Kamal responded to the incident saying that the country "will not bow before terrorists" in a statement.
The statement was later echoed by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the [people]. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured," he tweeted.
Deeply saddened & have strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Hazarganji market area of Quetta targeting our innocent people. I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the ppl. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 12, 2019
The attack was also condemned by Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi who expressed solidarity with the victims’ families.
“The security and stability of our neighbors, especially Pakistan, is of great importance for the Islamic Republic of Iran and I hope the government and nation of Pakistan can diffuse the plot set out by adversaries and enemies of the region by preserving their unity and vigilance,” he said.
Many Hazaras originally fled from Afghanistan during decades of conflict in the country.
Nearly half a million now live in and around Quetta.
The community has been frequently targeted by Taliban and Daesh militants and other Takfiri terrorist groups in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In 2013, three separate bombings killed more than 200 people in different Hazara neighborhoods.
After a series of attacks in Quetta, security forces started escorting Hazara buses to the market. The same procedure was carried out on Friday, but the blast took place inside the market.
Baluchistan is the focus of numerous projects in the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy transit route planned to link western China to Pakistan’s southern deepwater port of Gwadar.