The Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader’s convoy was passing by a mosque shortly after Friday prayers when it was targetted.
DPO Mastung Ghazanfar Ali said initial probe suggested it was a suicide attack. “A suspected suicide bomber hit Ghafoor Haidery’s car,” he said.
However, another police official said the nature of the blast could not be ascertained immediately. “It is not yet clear whether it was a planted bomb or a suicide attack,” Safar Khan said.
While the leader’s driver is said to be killed, the DPO added, Maulana Ghafoor was not in his car at the time of the attack. Hence, he only suffered minor injuries.
“I am alive, Allah has saved my life… broken pieces of the windscreen hit me… I am injured but safe,” Maulana Ghafoor told a private TV channel shortly after the attack. “The driver and other people sitting next to me were badly injured.”
Meanwhile, Levies officials cordoned the area and began a search operation.
Emergency has been declared at hospitals in Mastung and Quetta. The health secretary has ordered the relevant staff to give maximum health facilities.
Taking notice of the incident, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri directed the authorities concerned to submit a detailed report.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the attack.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced that his party will hold countrywide protests on Sunday against the “act of cowardice”. Similarly, Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani condemned the incident and termed it “an attack on the Parliament of the country.”
Later, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari addressed a news conference flanked by the JUI-F chief, saying the attack is condemnable and his party completely supports Fazl’s stance.
The JUI-F has been targeted by Taliban in the past, despite the party leaders acting as negotiators between the militants and the government in the past.
Bordering Iran and Afghanistan, a greater push towards peace and development in Balochistan has reduced the violence considerably in recent years.
The push includes starting work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the project which gives Beijing a route to the Arabian Sea through Gwadar port.
Islamic State claims responsibility
Islamic State militant group claimed it had carried out the deadly bomb attack.
The group’s Amaq news agency said a bomber wearing an explosive vest was responsible for the attack.