A powerful bomb ripped through a crowded market at Dera Allah Yar town in the restive Baluchistan province of Pakistan on Friday, killing eight persons including three children and injuring more than 40 others, officials said.

The injured were rushed to a nearby hospital where the condition of 15 of them is stated to be serious. Eight shops and a motorcycle were destroyed in the blast.

The blast occurred at Quetta Road, a market in Dera Allah Yar, the headquarters of Jaffarabad district. The area was crowded at the time of the attack.

Witnesses said the explosion threw up dust and smoke and people ran in panic.

District police chief Zulfiqar Ali said the bomb was hidden in a rickshaw and detonated by remote control. An estimated 20 kg of explosives were used in the attack.

“Apparently, the target of the blast was security personnel who pass through and patrol the Quetta-Jacobabad highway that runs through Dera Allah Yar,” he said.

Footage on television showed local residents putting the injured in private vehicles and ambulances and rushing them to hospital.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Baluchistan has been rocked by sectarian, ethnic and militant violence since last year. Several Baluch nationalist groups are involved in insurgency in the resource-rich province.

Earlier this year, nearly 200 Shia Hazaras were killed in two bomb attacks in Quetta, the provincial capital.