At least 52 people were killed — including a police officer — and more than 50 were injured in what officials believe was a suicide blast near a mosque in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Friday.
District Health Officer (DHO) Abdul Razzaq Shahi confirmed the casualties to Dawn.com while City Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Javed Lehri said a police official was among the dead.
However, Dr Saeed Mirwani, chief executive of Shaheed Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Memorial Hospital had earlier told Dawn.com that 34 people were dead while more than 130 were injured.
Shahi clarified that the higher number was because of double entries from two hospitals, and that the number of the injured was 50.
CEO Dr Mirwani confirmed that 28 bodies have been brought to the hospital so far, while six were taken to the Mastung district hospital.
He said dozens were being treated at the hospital while more than 20 injured people have been referred to Quetta for medical assistance. “The process of moving bodies and injured persons continues even now,” the hospital CEO said.
Earlier, Mastung Assistant Commissioner (AC) Attahul Munim said 15 people were killed due to the explosion while more than 50 were injured.
He added that the explosion took place when people were gathering for an Eid-i-Miladun Nabi procession near Madina Masjid at Alfalah Road.
The Mastung AC stated that the blast took place by the car of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nawaz Gishkori who was to remain on the sidelines of the procession.
SHO Lehri said the explosion was a “suicide blast”.
Unverified images and videos emerging in the aftermath of the blast showed a number of bloodied corpses and what looked like severed limbs strewn about as onlookers assessed the damage.
Balochistan interim Information Minister Jan Achakzai said rescue teams have been dispatched to Mastung. He added the critically injured persons are being transferred to Quetta and that an emergency has been imposed in all the hospitals.
“The enemy wants to destroy religious tolerance and peace in Balochistan with foreign blessings,” Achakzai said. “The explosion is unbearable.”
He further said caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Domki has directed authorities to arrest those responsible for the blast.
Soon after the explosion, the Punjab police also said that its “diligent officials” were performing security duties for Friday prayers at mosques across the province.
Meanwhile, the Karachi police said that Additional Inspector General Khadim Husain Rind has directed the police to remain “completely on high alert” in view of the Mastung blast.
He was quoted as directing the policemen to tighten security arrangements regarding Eid-i-Miladun Nabi processions and Friday prayers across the city, as well as to monitor any unusual activities.
Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti strongly condemned the blast and expressed his grief at the loss of lives.
Stating that “terrorists have no faith or religion”, Bugti asserted that all resources were being put to use during the rescue operation. He added that no effort would be spared in treating the injured and that terrorist elements did not deserve any concession.
PTI leader Imran Ismail also condemned the blast, saying that those who “end innocent lives are oppressors and terrorists”. He hoped that law enforcement agencies would soon catch the culprits.
Earlier this month, at least 11 people, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah, were injured in a blast in the same district.
A week prior to that, a Levies official was gunned down at a bus stand by unidentified men, while two others who were passing by were injured.
In May this year, unidentified attackers targeted a polio vaccination team in the Killi Sour Karez area on the outskirts of Mastung, resulting in a policeman being martyred.
In October last year, three people were killed and six others were injured in a bomb attack targeting two vehicles in the mountainous area of Qabu in Mastung.
In July 2018, at least 128 people, including politician Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, were killed and more than 200 were injured in a deadly suicide blast in the same district.