The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility Thursday for a deadly bomb blast at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador in the southwest of the country, as officials raised the death toll to five.
Beijing said it strongly condemned the attack, although the Taliban said Pakistan security officials were the target of the blast.
The bomb was placed in a car parked at the Serena hotel — part of a five-star chain popular with diplomats — and detonated late Wednesday in the city of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province.
Pakistan is fighting several low-level insurgencies in the impoverished province waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups.
“The suicide bomber hit the security officials exactly as it was planned,” the spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said in a statement.
Police said the blast came from an improvised explosive device, and security officials and hotel staff were among those killed.
Describing the blast as a “terrorist attack”, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that the Chinese delegation was not present when the bomb detonated.
Gu Wenliang, agriculture commissioner at China’s embassy in Pakistan, told the Chinese newspaper Global Times that the bomb had detonated 10 minutes before their expected return.
“I was walking through the car park when I heard a sudden loud sound and the earth shook under my feet,” said Khuda Baksh, a guard at the hotel.
“Everyone was running for their lives before I lost consciousness”, he told AFP.