The attack took place at the police headquarters in the troubled southwestern city of Quetta, Pakistan where officers gathered to pay their respects to a colleague who had been shot dead only hours before.
The suicide bomber struck before Muslim faithful in Pakistan are due to break their daily fast for the last time in the holy month of Ramadan, to be followed by the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Friday.
“At least eight police officers have been killed. It was a suicide attack,” said police officer Selim Shehwani, warning that the death toll could rise further.
He confirmed that Fayaz Sumbal, a deputy inspector general of police and one of the most senior officers in the city, was among those killed.
An AFP reporter saw five dead bodies in a hospital morgue.
Doctor Syed Sarwar Shah said the dead included four policemen and a son of the imam of the mosque at police headquarters.
Police officer Rahim Khan told AFP that another three senior officers had also been killed.
“We are collecting more details. We have declared an emergency,” he said.
Policeman Mohammad Hafiz spoke of his horror after the explosion.
“I was inside the mosque and we were lining up for the funeral prayers when a big blast took place. I came out and saw injured and dead bodies lying on the ground,” Hafiz told reporters.
“I have no words to explain what I’ve seen. It was horrible.”
The blast capped a bloody Ramadan in Pakistan, where at least 11 attacks have killed more than 90 people during the month.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Quetta is on the frontline of violence blamed on Islamist militants, sectarian killers targeting the Shiite Muslim minority and a separatist insurgency waged by Baluch rebels.