QUETTA/PESHAWAR: At least 52 people, including a senior police official, were killed on Friday when a suicide bomber hit close to a gathering to mark the Prophet’s birthday in southwest Pakistan, a district commissioner and hospital officials said.
The attack, in which 100 people were injured, took place in Mastung city in the impoverished Balochistan province.
“Locals were gathering for an Eid Milad ul Nabi procession when a suicide bomber attacked a police van near the rally,” Assistant Commissioner Mastung Atta ul Munim told Arab News, adding that a deputy superintendent of police was among the dead.
Dr. Saeed Baloch at the Nawab Ghos Buksh Raisani Hospital said 52 had been killed and 100 were injured.
“Thirty-two dead bodies have arrived at our hospital [NGBR] and 20 were shifted to District Headquarters Hospital Mastung,” the doctor said. “The number of critical injuries is high and the death toll might increase.”
Bilal Ahmed, a local resident of city said, the rally to mark the Prophet’s birth anniversary was about to begin when he heard a powerful blast and saw people running and screaming.
“People were gathering outside the Madani Mosque at Mastung’s Golra Road when the blast hit the procession’s participants,” he told Arab News.
Rab Nawaz, another person who was injured in the attack, informed he was about 10 feet away from the spot where the suicide bomber blew his explosive vest.
“My brother was killed and I got injured,” he said.
Quetta’s Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Tariq Jawad said the central Eid Milad ul Nabi procession had ended peacefully in the provincial capital of Balochistan, though the law enforcement agency had beefed up security in the city after the Mastung attack.
No group has as yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denied it was involved.
The Daesh group is known for attacks in Pakistan and beyond on religious gatherings and on minorities.
Balochistan is also home to a decades-long insurgency by ethnic Baloch guerrillas fighting the government over accusations of exploiting the province’s rich gas and mineral resources.x
Separately, at least five people were killed and at least 15 injured as two suicide explosions ripped through a mosque located in a police station in Hangu in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“The death toll has risen to five,” a spokesperson for Rescue 1122 Hangu told Arab News.
The roof of the mosque had collapsed, police said, and many people were trapped inside.
Deputy Commissioner Hangu, Fazal Akbar, said two suicide blasts had occurred at the mosque at the Doaba Police Station during Friday prayers, as a mosque leader was delivering his sermon before a group of around 30 people.