ISLAMABAD -- At least 19 Shiite pilgrims, including four women, were killed Sunday when their convoy of three buses in southwestern Pakistan was struck by a remotely detonated bomb, officials said. At least 25 other people were wounded in the attack in the Mastung District of Baluchistan province.
Earlier Sunday, government officials said they had discovered the bodies of 21 tribal police officers who were kidnapped by the Taliban last week in northwestern Pakistan. A group affiliated with the Taliban that operates in the Darra Adam Khel region claimed responsibility for the abduction of the officers.
The pilgrims were on their way to Shiite holy sites in neighboring Iran when the attack occurred. A pickup truck filled with explosives was detonated as the pilgrims' convoy passed by Sunday morning. The explosion destroyed one bus and damaged the other two.
The wounded were taken to a hospital in the provincial capital, Quetta, officials said.
"Most of the dead bodies are completely burned," said Nadir Ali, a retired army officer and a senior leader in the ethnic Hazara community.
Mr. Ali said the pilgrims had traveled from different cities and stayed in Quetta overnight before embarking on the 500-mile journey to Zahedan, Iran.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Shiite Muslims have repeatedly been singled out by extremist Sunni militants belonging to the banned group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has links to Pakistani Taliban militants in the tribal areas.
Pakistan's Shiites have long complained that despite repeated assurances, the government has offered inadequate security and failed to protect them. In Baluchistan province, sectarian attacks have often been directed at the ethnic Hazaras, a Persian-speaking Shiite minority. More than 300 Shiites, many of them Hazaras, have been killed in Baluchistan since 2008, according to Human Rights Watch.
Mr. Ali, the Hazara leader, said the Mastung district was a particularly dangerous point on the trip to Iran because the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had a strong presence there. In the fall of 2011, militants there dragged 26 Hazara men and boys from a bus headed to Iran and executed them.