ARAB NEWS PAKISTAN QUETTA: At least 14 people were killed, including a senior police officer, and 19 injured in an explosion at a mosque in Quetta on Friday evening.
“The blast occurred during Maghrib prayers at a mosque in Ghousabad neighborhood,” said Quetta police chief Abdullah Afridi. Deputy Superintendent of Police Amanullah is one of the dead, he added. It was too early to say whether the police officer was the primary target, he said, because “the nature of the blast is yet to be ascertained.”
Daesh issued a statement on Friday night claiming responsibility for the attack, saying that it had targeted the Afghan Taliban. It was carried out by a suicide bomber, the group said, named Abu Jarrah Al-Balouchi.
Two Afghan Taliban members confirmed that the mosque and an attached religious school belonged to Taliban chief justice Sheikh Abdul Hakeem, who is considered an influential leader in the organization’s hierarchy. The Taliban said that Hakeem’s brother was killed in the explosion and his son badly injured.
“The brother of Sheikh sahib and four or five other people have embraced martyrdom. Maulvi Abdul Ali, son of Sheikh sahib, is critically injured,” a Taliban leader said in an audio message in the Pashto language that was sent to Taliban members, a copy of which was obtained by Arab News.
However, Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousaf said: “None of the Taliban leaders was present in the mosque. No meeting was taking place there. Any reports suggesting so are untrue.”
The injured were taken to Quetta civil hospital, said Dr. Waseem Baig, a spokesman for the government-run health facility. He confirmed that 14 people had died and 19 were injured.
Quetta is the provincial capital and largest city of Balochistan. The Pakistan army’s military wing said that Frontier Corps Balochistan troops had been sent to the scene of the explosion. The area has been cordoned off and a joint search operation with the police was in progress.
Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the attack and expressed his grief over the loss of life. He ordered that the injured receive the best possible medical assistance.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also denounced the terrorist attack, describing it as a “vile conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan.” He passed on his profound condolences to the families of the victims, and added: “Mosques and places of worship are sacred places and their sanctity must be respected by all.”
On Tuesday, two people were killed and 18 injured in another explosion in Quetta. A Frontier Corps vehicle was targeted by a bomb planted on the city’s McConaghey Road. According to reports, the security officers were on a routine patrol when an improvised explosive device was detonated.