Islamabad, Sep 29 (EFE).- At least 52 people were killed and over 50 wounded on Friday in a suicide bombing during a religious procession at a mosque in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, authorities told EFE.
“The death toll has reached 52 with more than 50 have been injured, said Mohammad Javed Lehri, the officer-in-charge of the police station at Mastung, where the incident took place.
He added that the seriously wounded victims were being shifted to hospitals in regional capital Quetta, where a state of emergency had been imposed.
Another local police officer, Zubair Baloch, told EFE that the explosion took place in front of Madinah Mosque in Mastung, where Muslims were carrying out a rally to celebrate Eid-e-Miladun Nabi, a festival to celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammed.
Officials said that the deceased included a senior police officer, who had been deployed to protect the procession.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The acting chief minister of Balochistan, Mir Ali Mardan Domki, announced three-day mourning period in the province due to the tragedy, his information minister Jan Achakzai said on X, formerly Twitter.
“The purpose of mourning is to express solidarity with the families of the martyrs. During the three-day mourning period, the national flag will remain at half-mast on government buildings (in the province),” he said.
Meanwhile Pakistan’s federal interior minister Sarfraz Bugti condemned the attack on social media.
“Attacking innocent people during the Eid Milad-un-Nabi procession is a terrible act. We’ll use all resources for rescue and relief operations, ensuring best medical care for the injured. We’re committed to a zero-tolerance policy against terrorists,” he said on X.
This is the second blast to have taken place in Mustang this month.
Earlier on September 14, 11 people including a leader of the religious party Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), Hafiz Hamdullah, were injured as a result of an explosion near a vehicle on the Quetta-Karachi highway, close to Mustang.
In July, a JUI-F rally was targeted in a suicide bombing that killed at least 63 people, while around 120 were wounded. The attack was later claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, a regional branch of the IS.
Pakistan has witnessed a surge in terrorism-related incidents, including sectarian violence between Islamists, following the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Taliban.
Islamabad has accused the Afghan Taliban of providing “safe havens” to the militants of groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the local faction of Taliban. However, the Afghan Taliban has rejected the allegations.
According to a report released in early July by the Pakistan Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, there were 271 militant attacks in Pakistan in the first half of 2023 that killed 389 people and injured 656 others.
This represents a significant increase compared to the same period in 2022, when Pakistan suffered 151 attacks that left 293 killed and 487 wounded. EFE