Blast at Pakistan procession to mark prophet’s birthday kills at least 52
Pakistan’s Balochistan province witnessed a devastating explosion during a procession celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.
The death toll from the suspected suicide bomb attack has tragically risen to 52, with numerous individuals left wounded, some in critical condition, according to official sources and media reports.
The powerful explosion reverberated near a mosque in the Mastung district of Balochistan on Friday, shaking the community to its core. Abdul Rasheed, a district health official quoted by Reuters, confirmed the grim toll of 52 fatalities and 58 individuals injured. Disturbingly, Rasheed hinted that the casualty count could rise further as many victims remained in a precarious state.
Authorities on the scene swiftly suspected a suicide attack, with senior local police officer Javed Lehri suggesting that the assailant detonated explosives near the vehicle of Deputy Superintendent of Police Nawaz Gishkori. The tragic incident also claimed the life of senior police officer Mohammad Nawaz, as reported by Balochistan’s government administrator Atta Ullah.
Pakistan’s interior ministry condemned the act as the work of “terrorist elements” in Balochistan, decrying the assault on innocent people gathered to celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi, the prophet’s birthday. As of now, no group has claimed responsibility for this horrific attack.
The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), quickly distanced itself from the incident. While the TTP remains a distinct entity, it maintains close ties with the Afghan Taliban, which took control of neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021. Notably, the TTP had broken a ceasefire with the government in the past year, resulting in a resurgence of deadly attacks throughout the country.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder raised concerns over the absence of TTP involvement, suggesting that the presence of Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) elements in the region could be a cause for alarm.
This devastating bombing follows recent security alerts that had placed local police on high alert, anticipating the potential targeting of gatherings during this occasion.
The celebration of the Prophet’s birthday is observed by Muslims in Pakistan and worldwide through public gatherings. While it is embraced by the majority of Islamic sects, certain denominations consider it an unwarranted innovation.
Regrettably, Pakistan has previously witnessed attacks by various armed groups. Just earlier this month, a blast in the same Balochistan district injured at least 11 people, including a prominent religious leader. In July, a suicide bombing claimed over 40 lives during a religious political party’s gathering in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Balochistan, a resource-rich province bordering Afghanistan and Iran, has grappled with a low-intensity rebellion by Baloch separatists for over two decades. Initially driven by a desire for a fair share of provincial resources, this movement has since evolved to advocate for independence, adding another layer of complexity to the region’s challenges.