LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – A bomb blast ripped through a crowded market in eastern Pakistan on Thursday, killing three people and injuring more than 20, police said.
“It was a bomb blast,” police spokesman Arif Rana told Reuters, saying a motorcycle-mounted weather device exploded outside a shop in the market.
A nine-year-old boy was among the three dead, he said.
A newly formed separatist group based in the southwestern province of Balochistan claimed responsibility in a text message sent to a Reuters reporter.
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He said a bank was the target of the attack. Police said they were investigating, saying it was premature to link it to the Pakistani Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket tournament which was due to start in around a week.
Baloch separatists have waged a quiet insurgency against the Pakistani government to demand a bigger share of the rich local mineral resources.
They usually attack Chinese government interests or projects in the province bordering Afghanistan and Iran, but an attack in a city like Lahore is rare.
China is involved in developing the port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea and other projects in the province as part of a $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, itself part of the Beijing Belt and Road Initiative.
(Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Additional reporting by Saud Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan; Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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