File picture: Firefighters spray water on damaged vehicles at the site of a car bomb blast in Quetta.

Quetta, Pakistan - A bomb exploded in the city of Quetta in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, killing 14 people including three children on Thursday, police said.

The bomb was fixed to a bicycle parked next to a madrassa, or religious school, where students and parents had gathered for a graduation ceremony.

“The target was the madrassa, where a certificate-awarding ceremony was taking place,” Deputy Inspector General Qazi Wahid told Reuters.

Officials said more than 40 people were wounded in the attack.

Several militant groups are active in Baluchistan, Pakistan's biggest but poorest province.

Much of the violence in the past has been blamed on ethnic Baluch separatists, who are fighting a protracted insurgency, demanding more autonomy and control over the natural resources of the province.

Pro-Taliban militants are active in the province, which borders both Afghanistan and Iran.

Sunni Muslim militants also regularly carry out attacks on Baluchistan's Shi'ite minority. They have stepped up attacks in recent months. - Reuters