A police officer and three civilians have died after a suicide bomber blew himself up near a truck carrying police officers on their way to protect polio workers near Quetta in Pakistan.
The bombing also wounded 23 others, mostly policemen.
Senior officer Ghulam Azfer Mehser said the attack happened as the policemen were heading to the polio workers, part of a nationwide vaccination drive launched on Monday.
The blast was so powerful that it toppled the truck carrying police officers into a ravine, he said, adding that the bombing also damaged a nearby car carrying members of a family.
He said that the anti-polio campaign will continue with their work despite the atrocity.
Pakistani President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other officials have condemned the attack.
It came a day after Pakistani deputy foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khan traveled to Kabul to discuss a range of issues with the Afghan Taliban, including the latest threat from the local Taliban.
Pakistan wants Afghanistan’s Taliban not to allow the Pakistani militants to use their soil to launch attacks inside this Islamic nation, which has witnessed scores of attacks.
Most have been blamed on the Pakistani Taliban, who in a statement claimed responsibility for the bombing in Baluchistan.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan group, or TTP, said the attack in Baluchistan targeted police to avenge the killing of their former spokesperson, Abdul Wali.
He was widely known as Omar Khalid Khurasani and was killed in a bombing in Afghanistan’s Paktika province in August. His death was a heavy blow to the group.
The attack on police came amid a spike in new polio cases among children. The latest vaccination campaign is the sixth such drive this year and will last for five days, aiming to inoculate children under the age of five in high-risk areas.
The drive is aimed at Islamabad and in the high-risk districts in eastern Punjab and south-western Baluchistan province, where Monday’s attack took place.
It killed at least two people, including a police officer and a child. A similar campaign will be launched in the north-west in the first week of December.
Pakistani authorities have been launching such campaigns regularly despite attacks on workers and police assigned to inoculation drives.
Militants falsely claim that vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilise children.