Quetta: A bomb attack tore through a Pakistan army vehicle escorting children from school on Wednesday, killing four soldiers and a woman in the southwestern city of Quetta, police said. More than 20 people were wounded in the attack, one day before Pakistan welcomes Muslim leaders at the Developing Eight summit in the capital, where international conferences are rare due to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence plaguing the country.
"The target was an army vehicle which was escorting a school bus carrying children of local army officers from different schools," Quetta city police chief Hamid Shakeel said. He said four soldiers and a woman were killed when the bomb was detonated by remote control.
"Twenty-one people were wounded in the blast, including three soldiers. Eighteen are civilians. Six or seven of them are in a serious condition," he said. "It was a remote controlled bomb. The device was planted on a motorbike. It exploded soon after the army vehicle came there," Shakeel said.
Quetta is more than 400 miles (640 kilometres) southwest of Islamabad, where Pakistan has stepped up security significantly for the summit, not least because it coincides with the holy month of Muharram, a magnet for sectarian attacks.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to be among those attending the D8 summit, likely to be overshadowed by the conflict in the Gaza Strip.
It will mark the first visit by an Egyptian president to Pakistan in four decades and by the first by a Nigerian leader in 28 years. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack, but Quetta and its province Baluchistan are frequently hit by bomb attacks.
The oil and gas rich area borders Iran and Afghanistan, and suffers from sectarian violence, attacks by Taliban militants and a tribal insurgency. Baluch rebels rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's mineral resources.