ISLAMABAD, PK – A religious celebration marking the birth of Prophet Mohammad in Pakistan took a tragic turn on Friday when a suicide bomber detonated a powerful explosive near a mosque. The attack resulted in the death of at least 52 individuals and injured approximately 70 others, primarily worshippers and police officers. A separate attack on another mosque elsewhere in the country claimed at least five more lives.
The deadly blast occurred in the Mastung district of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province, a region plagued by a longstanding nationalist rebellion and recurrent attacks by the ISIS faction. Local authorities reported that the suicide bomber targeted the procession as worshippers were leaving the mosque.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the explosion, the Pakistani Taliban, an amalgamation of religious extremist sub-groups with ties to the Afghan Taliban, has denied involvement. ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, a branch of the terror group operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is also active in the province and has been responsible for previous fatal attacks in Baluchistan and other areas.
The Baluch nationalists, who have been fighting for independence in the oil-rich province bordering Afghanistan and Iran, typically target security officials rather than civilians. Footage aired on Pakistani TV stations and shared on social media depicted the gruesome aftermath of the explosion, with bloodied victims and body parts scattered across the blast site.
Dr. Saeed Mirwani, the chief executive of the local Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Memorial Hospital, informed reporters that the hospital was treating dozens of casualties. More than 20 severely injured victims were transported to the provincial capital of Quetta for advanced medical care.
In the wake of the Baluchistan suicide blast, another explosion devastated a mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, also bordering Afghanistan, killing at least five people. The mosque’s roof collapsed due to the blast, trapping 30 to 40 people under the rubble.
Pakistan’s president Arif Alvi condemned both attacks and urged authorities to provide all possible assistance to the wounded and the victims’ families. The caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti denounced the bombing as a “heinous act” targeting people participating in the religious procession.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan voiced its concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Baluchistan, stating that it was “unacceptable that the residents of Baluchistan are compelled to live in constant fear.” The Commission called for those responsible for the attack to be brought to justice.
Friday’s bombing is one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan in the past decade. In 2014, a Taliban attack on an army-run school in the northwest city of Peshawar killed 147 people, mostly schoolchildren.