QUETTA, Pakistan — A bomb hidden in a water tank ripped through a crowded market in a mostly Shi’ite neighborhood in a southwestern Pakistani city Saturday, killing at least 65 people and wounding nearly 200, officials said.
Police said many of those wounded in the explosion in Quetta remain in critical condition. The blast, which police said targeted the country’s minority Shi’ite Muslim sect, left many victims buried under rubble, but authorities did not know how many.
It was the deadliest incident since bombings targeting Shi’ites in the same city killed 86 people earlier this year, leading to days of protests that eventually toppled the local government.
Shi’ites have been increasingly attacked by militant groups who view them as heretics and non-Muslims in this Sunni Muslim dominated country. Many Shi’ites in Quetta, including those in the neighborhood attacked Saturday, are Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated to Pakistan from Afghanistan more than a century ago.
Officials said the bomb was hidden in a water tank, towed to the market by a tractor, and set off by remote control.
Quetta police chief Zubair Mahmood said the blast destroyed shops in the neighborhood and caused a two-story building to collapse.
Mahmood said police did not yet know who was behind the bombing, but a local television station reported that Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group that has targeted Shi’ites in the past, had called to claim responsibility.