At least 48 people were killed and over 130 injured in a powerful explosion in Quetta on Saturday.

The explosion occurred near a school at the busy Kirani road area of the city, located close to Hazara Town. The Hazara Town area is dominated by the ethnic Hazaras, a large population of which belongs to the Shia community.

The blast was so horrible and awful that windows of the nearby buildings were broken.

Rescue officials confirmed at least 48 people were killed in the blast, and said the number of casualties was feared to rise.

Police say it could not yet confirm the exact nature of the explosion. “It was a sectarian attack, the Shia community was the target,” said Wazir Khan Nasir, senior police officer in Quetta.

Provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani confirmed the incident and said the dead included women and children. Emergency was imposed at all local hospitals.

The death toll may rise as many of those injured are in critical condition.

According to reports, firing ensued after the blast, triggering panic and fear in the area. The whole area plunged into darkness due to power breakdown.

Rescue teams reached the scene and shifted the dead and injured to CMH, Civil Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex. Fourteen dead bodies were brought to CMH and 13 others were shifted to Bolan Medical Complex.

Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a probe. Nobody was being allowed to enter the cordoned area where the blast occurred, but reports said sporadic sounds of gunfire could constantly be heard from inside the off-limits area.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf have condemned the blast.

In a statement, President Asif Ali Zardri slammed the blast.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has strongly condemned the Karani road, Quetta bomb blast which resulted in the loss of precious lives and property.

The Prime Minister has directed the concerned authorities to provide best medical facilities to the injured of the blast.

The Prime Minister reiterated the resolve of his government to fight and eliminate the menace of terrorism from Pakistan and said that terrorists would not be able to subdue our will through such dastardly acts.

Maulana Nasir Abbas, Secretary General of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM), has condemned the terrorist attack. The MWM called for a shutter-down strike in Quetta on Sunday.

Tahafuz Azadari Council (TAC) said that it would observe a week long mourning against the inhuman act of terrorism.