A bomb blast in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province has killed at least 25 people and wounded over 40. Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Islamic JUI-F party and deputy chairman of Pakistan's Senate was among the wounded.
A bomb attack on a convoy carrying the deputy chairman of Pakistan's Senate killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 40 in the southwestern Baluchistan province on Friday. Medical sources say the death toll is likely to rise.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was injured in the blast as his convoy was leaving a mosque in Mastung district, east of the provincial capital, Quetta.
"I am alive. Allah has saved my life. It was a sudden blast, broken pieces of the windscreen hit me - I am injured but safe. The driver and other people sitting next to me were badly injured," Haideri said on private TV channel SAMAA.
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the Friday attack and expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in the blast, according to local media.
Baluchistan is one of Pakistan's most violent provinces, with a number of Islamist and separatist groups regularly carrying out attacks on security forces and representatives of the state.
Baloch separatists are largely secular and their supporters are against the Islamization of the country.
IS targeting pro-Taliban groups?
The "Islamic State" (IS), which has clashed with the Taliban, claimed credit for the attack. Security services did not immediately blame any militant group, but in the past authorities have blamed other groups for attacks claimed by IS.
On February 16, a jihadist affiliated with IS attacked one of the most beloved Sufi shrines in the southern Sindh province, killing more than 90 people.
Haideri is a member of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), one of the more powerful Islamist political parties in a coalition with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government.
"Many of our dear companions have been martyred [in this attack]," JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman told Geo TV, a private TV channel in Pakistan.
"We have to continue to work for this country and the stability of Islam," he added.
JUI-F subscribes to the Deoband revivalist movement within Sunni Islam, which has traditionally been strong among ethnic Pashtuns along the Afghan-Pakistan border and has influenced the Taliban.
Party leaders have been influential in negotiating with the Pakistani Taliban - even though they have also been targeted in the past.
Political observers say that IS has made huge gains in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is increasing its presence in the country.
Pro-Taliban Islamic groups, including Haideri's JUI-F, oppose IS and are fearful of the Middle-Eastern militant group's expansion in the country. They are now being increasingly targeted by IS and its affiliated jihadists.
"The IS ideology finds resonance in Pakistan. There are many religious groups that openly endorse it; however, they are quite small in size. But I fear that IS could still count on their backing," Peshawar-based expert Iqbal Khattak told DW.