Pakistan: Dual Suicide Blasts Claim At Least 55 Lives During Religious Gatherings

A devastating suicide attack in Balochistan mosque claims over 50 lives, while another explosion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mosque kills three.
Pakistan: Dual Suicide Blasts Claim At Least 55 Lives During Religious Gatherings

KARACHI: A devastating suicide attack rocked a mosque in Pakistan's troubled Balochistan province on Friday, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 52 lives and leaving over 50 individuals wounded. The incident occurred as worshippers had gathered to observe the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, and authorities have confirmed it as a suicide bombing.

Hours later, another explosion shook a mosque in Hangu city, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, claiming the lives of at least three people and injuring five others.

The initial blast in Balochistan transpired near the Madina Mosque on Al Falah Road in the Mastung district, casting a shadow of sorrow over the Eid Miladun Nabi celebration. Among the deceased was Mastung's Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nawaz Gashkori, who was on duty for the occasion.

City Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Javed Lehri confirmed the explosion as a "suicide blast" and indicated that the attacker detonated himself in close proximity to the DSP's vehicle.

These harrowing events unfolded just a day after the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had eliminated a prominent Islamic State (ISIS) commander in the Mastung district.

The wounded are currently being transferred to medical facilities, and emergency measures have been initiated in hospitals. District Health Officer Rashid Muhammad Saeed has reported that some of the injured are in critical condition, and concerns remain that the casualty count may rise.

Balochistan's interim Information Minister, Jan Achakzai, announced the dispatch of rescue teams to Mastung. He conveyed that critically injured individuals were being transported to Quetta and stressed that an emergency state had been declared in all hospitals. Achakzai deplored the incident, stating, "The enemy wants to destroy religious tolerance and peace in Balochistan... The explosion is unbearable."

Caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Domki has issued directives to apprehend those responsible for the blast and underscored that those who target peaceful processions would be dealt with firmly."The perpetrators of the destruction do not deserve any leniency," he declared. "Those who commit such heinous acts cannot be called Muslims."

Caretaker Chief Minister Domki further declared a three-day mourning period throughout the province to mourn the tragic incident.

Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti condemned the blast strongly, emphasizing that "terrorists have no faith or religion." He assured that all resources were being employed in the rescue operation, and no effort would be spared in treating the injured. Terrorist elements, he maintained, did not deserve any concessions.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack, describing it as a detestable act, particularly on an occasion that commemorates the birth of the Holy Prophet. He offered condolences to the families of the victims and the injured.

Following the Balochistan explosion, Punjab police announced that its officers were on high alert, performing security duties during Friday prayers at mosques across the province. Karachi police, too, directed heightened vigilance and security measures for Eid-i-Miladun Nabi processions and Friday prayers, along with monitoring any unusual activities.

This tragic incident marks the second major blast to rock Mastung within the past 15 days. In early September, at least 11 individuals were injured in a blast in the same district. Mastung has experienced frequent terror attacks in recent years, with one of the deadliest incidents occurring in July 2018, claiming the lives of at least 128 people.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group comprising various terrorist outfits and believed to be closely associated with al-Qaeda, has been responsible for numerous deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on the army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

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Sentinel Assam