Crime & Justice

At least 3 killed, 50 wounded in Pakistan blast on Shia mourning procession

Islamabad, Aug 19 (EFE).- A powerful explosion that hit a Shia mourning procession in central Pakistan on Thursday killed at least three people and wounded 50, an official said.

The explosion targeting the religious procession took place in the Bahawalnagar city of the eastern Punjab province, Fayyaz Hussain, a police officer, said.

“Three people were killed and 50 injured. It was a terrorist blast but the nature of the explosion is still unclear,” Hussain told EFE.

The police officer said the explosion went off as the procession passed through the Jail Road in the city.

Videos on social media purportedly from the blast site showed some people with blood oozing from their wounds shrieking on the roadside as they await medical attention.

A couple of men in black dresses lay still, not sure if they were already dead.

More videos showed police and ambulances rushing to rescue the wounded and secure the site of the explosion.

No militant group claimed the blast, but the Sunni extremist gunmen often attacked the members of the minority Shia community in Pakistan.

Former female lawmaker Sehar Kamran condemned the blast, calling it a “cracker attack.”

Pakistani Awami Party leader Aimal Wali “strongly” condemned the attack on the Ashura procession and linked it to the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan.

“The new wave must be taken seriously as the international situation, especially in Afghanistan is changing. We need to protect our soil first. Thought and prayers with the affected families,” Wali wrote in Tweeter.

Security was beefed up across Pakistan ahead of the day as the country remains on high alert for the Shia processions to mourn the death of Imam Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet, killed in the 7th century Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq.

The streets in Shia-dominated areas of Pakistan were teeming with police officers to protect processions routes.

Authorities suspended mobile phone services across the country due to security threats during the Ashura.

The Shia community in Pakistan has been the target of terrorist attacks in the past, even as sectarian violence has become sporadic in recent years.

One of the worst attacks in recent times took place on Mar.12, 2019, when at least 20 people were killed, half of them belonging to the Hazara Shia minority, and 40 were injured when a bomb, hidden in a sack of potatoes, exploded.

The bomb blast took place outside a market in the southwestern city of Quetta, the capital of resource-rich Balochistan province.

The Islamic State terror group claimed the attack.

Terrorist violence has declined remarkably in Pakistan since the army launched an operation in the northwestern tribal areas in June 2014.

The army later expanded the operation to the rest of the country.

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