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Pakistan bomb kills at least 10


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LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- At least 10 people have been killed and at least 18 others wounded after a bomb exploded near an army truck in Quetta, southwestern Pakistan, police and hospital sources say.

Four of the injured in Friday's explosion are in critical condition. Some of the casualties were army personnel, wire reports say.

Four vehicles, including the army truck, were destroyed by the bomb, which was attached to a bicycle.

The explosive material in the incident weighed between 15 to 20 kilograms, sources told CNN.

Witnesses said the blast in the main city in Pakistan's Baluchistan province occurred in the center of the city.

Several people were killed on the spot, while others died in hospital, doctors told Reuters.

At least 10 shops in a business district were also damaged, witnesses told the news agency.

At least five bodies had been brought to hospital, doctors and witnesses told The Associated Press.

Human body parts and blood were splattered around the busy square, which was sealed off by the security forces.

"It was a mighty explosion," Abdullah, a witness who gave only one name, told Reuters. "I saw people screaming and running and the dead and the wounded strewn on the road."

Naeemullah Khan said his father, a shopkeeper, was killed in the blast. "He was badly wounded and was covered with blood. I rushed him to hospital, but doctors couldn't save his life," he told Reuters, wailing

Information Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said the government condemned what he called "a heinous act of terrorism."

He said it was too early to allot blame for the blast, but added: "The people responsible will not go unpunished."

Baluchistan has been hit by a series of low-level bombings in recent years, most of which have not caused any casualties and have been blamed on feuding tribesmen, AP reported.

However, AP said, there are signs that the region has become a base for Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.

On December 1, police and intelligence agents exchanged fire with two suspected Chechen militants hiding in a home on the outskirts of Quetta.

One militant died and the other was arrested. Eleven policemen were injured when the militants hurled grenades during the raid.

The city has also been rocked by sectarian violence, AP reported.

In March, suspected Sunni militants fired at a Shiite procession in Quetta, killing 44 people and wounding 150.

And in July 2003, attackers armed with machine guns and grenades stormed a Shiite mosque in the city, killing 50 people praying inside.

Other small-scale explosions, AP said, have been blamed on nationalists who oppose setting up new army garrisons in the province and are trying to pressure authorities to get more returns from gas extracted from their region.

A little-known group, The Baluchistan National Army, has claimed responsibility for some of the previous attacks.

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