Pakistani authorities say a bomb blast has ripped through a crowded market in Pakistan's second-largest city of Lahore, killing at least two people and wounding more than 20 others.
A newly formed separatist group based in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan claimed responsibility for the January 20 explosion in the eastern city’s Anarkali district.
Initial investigations showed that the blast was caused by a time-controlled device rigged to a motorcycle, police spokesman Arif Rana said, adding that a 9-year-old boy was among the dead.
Both of the people killed were said to be civilians.
Police official Abid Khan said some of those wounded were in critical condition.
The blast damaged several shops, according to witnesses.
A purported spokesman for the Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA) claimed responsibility in a tweet, saying the attack targeted a bank.
Abdul Basit, an expert on South Asian insurgent groups, said it was the first attack claimed by the group in Pakistan.
The BNA was formed by the merger of two Baluch separatist groups, the Baloch Republican Army and the United Baloch Army, he said.
Usman Buzdar, chief minister of Punjab Province, of which Lahore is the capital, condemned the blast in a tweet, saying those responsible “will be arrested soon and brought to justice."
Resource-rich Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been plagued by sectarian violence, attacks by Islamist militants, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.
The Lahore bombing comes days after gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, sparking a shoot-out that killed an officer and both assailants.
Two policemen were also wounded in the assault, which was claimed by militants of the outlawed Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban.