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Death toll from suicide car bombing rises to 5 in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — An overnight attack at a luxury hotel in Pakistan has been confirmed as a suicide car bombing and the death toll has risen to five, the country’s interior minister and police said Thursday.

In a statement, the counter-terrorism department said five people were killed and about a dozen wounded in Wednesday’s attack in the parking lot of the Serena hotel, in the southwestern city of Quetta. Four deaths had been initially reported.

Pakistani Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The bombing took place as Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong visited Quetta city.

In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said it targeted a meeting of Pakistani and foreign officials. It did not elaborate. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said explosives weighing 60 to 70 kilograms were used in the attack. He said the suicide bomber was in his explosive-laden car at the time.

He said the Chinese ambassador was in Quetta at the time of the attack, but was not inside the hotel and that he was safe.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China “strongly condemns” the attack and extended sympathies to the victims, but said the investigation was in the hands of the Pakistani authorities.

He said that no Chinese citizens was injured in the bombing. He offered no indication whether China’s representatives might have been specifically targeted in the attack. “We believe the Pakistani side will be able to find out the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible,” Wang said at a daily briefing Thursday.

In Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan described the bombing as “a cowardly terrorist attack.” In a tweet, Khan said his nation had “made great sacrifices in defeating terrorism & we will not to allow this scourge to rise again.”

Quetta is in Baluchistan province, where secessionist groups have staged a long-running insurgency to push for independence. The Pakistani Taliban and Islamic State groups also have a presence there.

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Associated Press Writer Christopher Bodeen contributed to this story from Beijing.

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