Peshawar: A bomb hidden in a rickshaw exploded outside a bus terminal near a busy bazaar in the southwest on Friday, killing at least nine people and wounding 40, officials said.

The explosion came hours after a US drone targeted a vehicle in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing three suspected militants, two intelligence officials said.

The rickshaw bomb struck in Jafarabad, about 300 kilometres east of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. It also destroyed several shops, said senior government official Syed Zafar Bukhari.

Bukhari said the motive for the attack was not clear. He said the victims were taken to a hospital, where some of the injured were listed in critical condition.

“I can only confirm that the bomb killed nine people,” Bukhari said by phone. “It would be premature to say who orchestrated the attack.”

Although no group claimed responsibility, suspicion fell on Bluch nationalists who have waged a decades-long insurgency against the government in Baluchistan for greater autonomy and a larger share of the province’s natural resources. The province is also home to many radical Islamist militants.

In the drone strike, a pair of missiles fired from the unmanned aircraft hit a vehicle in a bazaar near the Datta Khel village of North Waziristan tribal region at about midnight on Thursday, the two intelligence officials said.

The suspects were travelling from the border town of Shawal to Datta Khel, a stronghold of local Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the officials added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media. They said the nationalities and identities of the slain men were not immediately known. Pakistani government and army spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

Drone strikes often cause tension between Washington and Islamabad. They are extremely unpopular in this Islamic nation, where many people believe the drone attacks mostly kill civilians, an allegation disputed by US officials.

The CIA drone strikes have killed scores of suspected Al Qaida and Taliban men in Pakistan’s tribal region over the past few years. The secret nature of the programme makes it difficult to determine how many civilians are being killed.