Mastung mosque attacks. Tragedy strikes Pakistan's religious gathering

30.09.2023 posted by Admin

Deadly bombings rock Pakistan's religious gatherings

Islamabad, Pakistan — Tragedy struck in Pakistan during a religious gathering held to commemorate the Prophet Mohammad's birthday. A suicide bomber detonated a powerful explosive device near a mosque, resulting in the loss of at least 52 lives and injuring around 70 individuals. This horrific attack specifically targeted worshipers and law enforcement personnel. In a separate incident, another mosque in a different location witnessed a similar attack, claiming the lives of at least 5 people.

The explosion occurred in the Mastung district of Baluchistan province in Pakistan's southwest region. This area has been grappling with a prolonged nationalist rebellion and has been a target for attacks by an ISIS faction operating in the region. The attack was aimed at the procession as worshipers were leaving the mosque. Despite no immediate claims of responsibility, the Pakistani Taliban, an alliance of various extremist groups distinct from the Afghan Taliban but closely aligned with the group that regained control in Afghanistan in August 2021, denied involvement.

ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, a branch of the terrorist organization active in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has previously claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Baluchistan and other regions.

Notably, Baluch nationalists, who have long sought independence in this resource-rich province bordering Afghanistan and Iran, typically target security personnel rather than civilians.

Television footage aired in Pakistan and circulated on social media depicted the aftermath of the explosion, with victims covered in blood and body parts scattered at the blast site.

Dr. Saeed Mirwani, the CEO of Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Memorial Hospital, reported that the facility was treating numerous casualties, with more than 20 seriously injured individuals sent to the provincial capital of Quetta for advanced medical care. Efforts were underway to relocate bodies and injured individuals.

Following the suicide blast in Baluchistan, another explosion rocked a mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which also shares a border with Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of at least five people. The blast caused the mosque's roof to collapse, trapping approximately 30 to 40 individuals beneath the rubble.

Feroze Jamal, interim information minister for the provincial government, disclosed that two suicide bombers were involved in the attack. One was killed in a confrontation with police at the mosque's entrance, while the other activated his device inside the building as people gathered to aid the wounded.

Pakistan's President Arif Alvi condemned both attacks and urged authorities to provide full assistance to the injured and the victims' families.

In a statement, the caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti condemned the bombing as a "heinous act" targeting individuals in a religious procession. The government had designated Friday as a national holiday to commemorate Prophet Mohammad's birthday.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed its dismay, stating that it was "unacceptable for Baluchistan residents to live in constant fear amid deteriorating law and order." The commission called for those responsible for the attack to be brought to justice and emphasized that excessive securitization was not the solution to the province's security challenges.

Following news of the explosions in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, authorities in Pakistan's most populous province, Punjab, and its largest city, Karachi, announced heightened security measures around mosques during Friday prayers.

This tragic bombing ranks among the deadliest attacks in Pakistan over the past decade. In 2014, a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar claimed the lives of 147 people, predominantly schoolchildren. In late January, over 100 people, mostly police personnel, lost their lives in a mosque located within a high-security compound that housed the Peshawar police headquarters. In July, an ISIS-K suicide bomber targeted an election rally for a pro-Taliban party in the country's northwest, resulting in the deaths of at least 54 people.
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