Wed, 29 Nov 2023

At Least 47 Dead in Bombing of Pakistan Religious Rally

Voice of America
29 Sep 2023, 22:06 GMT+10

ISLAMABAD - At least 47 people were killed and 66 injured in southwestern Pakistan Friday when a suspected suicide bomb blast ripped through a religious procession.

The attack near a mosque in Mastung, a volatile district in Baluchistan province, targeted a rally of Muslim devotees marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, witnesses said.

Abdul Razaq, the district deputy commissioner, confirmed the casualties, saying a top police officer was also among the dead. He told reporters that several injured had received severe injuries.

Pakistani Interior Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti condemned the deadly violence against innocent devotees, saying that 'terrorists have no faith or religion.'

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the violence in a district where militants linked to a regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K, are active.

Earlier this month, a roadside bomb explosion in Mastung injured 11 people, including a senior religious party leader, with IS-K claiming responsibility. That attack occurred a day after Pakistani security forces announced the killing of key IS-K commanders in a district counterterrorism raid.

Meanwhile, police in northwestern Pakistan said a twin suicide bomb attack on a mosque inside a district police headquarters during Friday afternoon prayers killed five worshippers and injured 12 others.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the compound while another detonated explosives strapped to his body inside the main prayer hall, police said.

Nisar Ahmed, the Hangu district police chief, told reporters that the mosque's roof caved in because of the impact of the blast, trapping up to 40 people under the rubble. He said rescue efforts were underway to retrieve the victims.

Separately, the Pakistani military said Friday that an overnight shootout with 'terrorists' near the Afghan border had killed four soldiers.

The clashes erupted when militants linked to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, attempted to 'infiltrate from Afghanistan into Pakistan' in the Zhob district of Baluchistan, the military's media wing said. It added that the exchange of fire had also killed three militants and wounded several others.

TTP, a globally declared terrorist group, operates out of sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border and has killed hundreds of Pakistani security forces in bomb and gun raids this year.

The TTP said in a statement sent to media that it was not behind the bombings in Mastung and Hangu.

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