QUETTA  - At least 13 people were killed and 30 injured in a series of attacks in the capital city of restive Balochistan province on Thursday, including a suicide bombing targeting a leading religio-political figure.

In the first incident, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Shia Muslims at a fruit and vegetable bazaar in Quetta, killing eight people just days ahead of the holy month of Muharram.

Hours later, a bomb targeted an FC convoy, killing two passers-by and injuring 12 others. Three people were killed and 20 injured when a suicide bomber struck a JUI-F rally, apparently targeting party chief Fazlur Rehman, who remained unhurt.

The head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) was leaving the rally - where he had addressed thousands of people - when his car was targeted by the suicide bomber, officials said.

Abdul Razaq Cheema, the city’s police chief told AFP: “It was a suicide attack. One person has been killed and more than 17 injured. Some of the injured are in critical condition.”

Fazl, who leads the biggest religious party in parliament, said he believed he was the target. “I was in a bulletproof car and that’s why I survived. There is blood and human flesh on my car,” he told a private TV channel.

“My car was badly damaged, almost destroyed. The windscreen of my car was completely cracked, we received a big shock but me and friends inside the car are safe and alive.” Inspector General Police Muhammad Amlaish Khan said, “The bomber blew himself up when he failed to climb the vehicle and was stopped by JUI workers.”

According to a private TV channel, banned militant group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack. Rehman and his party have been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the past, even though he once acted as a negotiator between the militants and the government. A bombing at a JUI-F election rally in May 2013 killed more than 20 people, while the leader was targeted twice in as many days by bombings in 2011.

Earlier in the morning, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Hazara community members at Hazarganji fruit and vegetable bazaar on the outskirts of the city.

“At least nine Hazara Shias were sitting in a minibus after buying vegetables when two gunmen opened fire on them with automatic weapons, killing eight of them and wounding another one,” senior local police official Imran Qureshi said.

Qureshi said “the assailants sprayed bullets over the Mazda bus and managed to escape unhurt from the spot... This is an act of targeted killing”. City police chief Cheema also confirmed the incident and casualties.

A rescue worker at the site said the blood-soaked dead bodies had fallen on top of each other, many struck by bullets to the head. They were later moved to an area hospital. A local said five other people were also injured in the firing.

Hazara Democratic Party and other Shia Community organizations have announced three days mourning against the deadly incident. In a statement, the party lashed out at the provincial government and law enforcement agencies over their failure to protect Hazaras in the city. “Under a pre-planned conspiracy, our people are being targeted,” the statement said. The Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) also criticised the government and law enforcement agencies for their failure to protect citizens.

Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch strongly condemned the incident. The chief minister in his statement said that the incident aimed at sabotaging peace of the city. He also directed the police to submit a report of the incident.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took strict notice of the incident and directed the interior secretary to remain in contact with all security agencies till the culprits are apprehended. The PM also directed to immediately report if the incident took place due to any security breach.

The Islamic month of Muharram, considered particularly holy for Shias, is due to begin on Saturday or Sunday depending on the sighting of the new moon. The month has frequently been marred by violence in recent years. Clashes between some extremists offshoots of majority Sunni sect and Shias led to at least 11 deaths in Rawalpindi last November.

Ethnic Hazaras have taken the brunt of rising sectarian violence in Balochistan in recent years. They are often singled out for attack because their Central Asian features make them easily identifiable.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said last week that as many as 200,000 Hazaras had fled Balochistan over the past 10 years, either relocating in the country’s major cities or seeking asylum abroad.

At least 24 Hazara pilgrims were killed in June in a suicide bombing. Two devastating bombings in Quetta targeting Hazara Shias killed nearly 200 people last year and were claimed by militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has links to al-Qaeda.

Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 percent of the country’s 180 million-strong population, most of whom are Muslim.

Hours after the market attack, a bomb targeted a convoy of the government paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC). “This bomb was planted in a motorcycle parked on the Qambrani Road. Two passers-by were killed as result of this blast and 12 others were wounded,” Cheema said.

An FC spokesman and a police surgeon confirmed the attack and casualties. Locals said unidentified gunmen opened fire in the area following the explosion which was heard far and wide. Police and paramilitary troops were called in the area to bring the situation under control. Vast and sparsely populated but rich in resources, Balochistan has long been racked by a separatist insurgency.