QUETTA - A blast hit Jaffar Express near Dera Murad Jamali town of Balochistan on Monday, killing seven passengers and injuring at least 16 others besides damaging three coaches.

The device, apparently planted on the railway track, exploded when the train approached a station in Naseerabad district. The bomb destroyed a bogie and derailed four bogies of passenger train disrupting train service from Quetta to rest of the country.

Talking to media, Balochistan Home Secretary Asad Gilani said that militants targeted Jaffar Express using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Naseerabad district. “When the train reached Notal area, there were huge explosions,” Gilani said adding the blasts damaged a portion of the railway track and three bogies of the train.

Senior official Zafar Shah Bukhari confirmed the death toll and said Jaffar Express was travelling from Rawalpindi to Quetta. “We have taken the bodies and injured to the nearby hospital,” Bukhari said, adding that the condition of six of the injured was critical. The train was carrying hundreds of passengers from Punjab province returning to Balochistan after Eid holidays. He said the seven slain people included two women. Three brothers who died in the blast have been identified as Wasim, Naeem and Nadeem, residents of Sadiqabad.

Heavy contingent of security forces and police reached the spot soon after the incident. “At least 100-feet portion of the railway track had been blown up due to the blast. Rawalpindi bound Jaffar Express, Lahore bound Nawab Akbar Bugti Express and Karachi bound Bolan Mail were stopped at Quetta Railway Station due to the security reasons and damages done to the track,” said Pakistan Railways Balochistan spokesman Abbas Ali.

A special train was sent to the spot to bring the passengers to Quetta. “PR had refunded the tickets to the passengers after train services were suspended,” said SP Railway Quetta division. He said rail services would be restored soon.

Quetta Superintendent of Police (Railways) Riaz Ahmed said three brothers were also among the dead. Banned militant outfit Baloch Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack.