In Pakistan's volatile Balochistan province, a suicide blast occurred near a mosque on Friday, resulting in the loss of at least 52 lives and leaving more than 50 individuals injured as they had gathered to commemorate Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
The explosion took place in the vicinity of the Madina Mosque on Al Falah Road in the Mastung district. No group has claimed responsibility for this devastating attack.
Among the victims was Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nawaz Gashkori, who was on duty during the gathering.
The incident unfolded as people had assembled to observe Eid Miladun Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.
According to City Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Javed Lehri, this was indeed a "suicide blast," with the bomber detonating himself adjacent to the DSP's vehicle.
Visuals of the suicide bomber detonating himself surfaces:
(Warning: Graphic content)
Lehri noted that the wounded are being transported to medical facilities, and hospitals have declared an emergency in response to the situation.
District Health Officer Mastung, Rashid Muhammad Saeed, confirmed that at least 52 lives were lost, and over 50 individuals sustained injuries in the explosion.
Some of the injured were in critical condition.
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...," Achakzai said. "The explosion is unbearable." Caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Domki has directed authorities to arrest those responsible for the blast.
"The perpetrators of the destruction do not deserve any leniency," he said. "Those who target peaceful processions will be dealt with firmly." Chief Minister Domki urged the people to unite against terrorism, adding that Islam was a religion of peace and "those who commit such heinous acts cannot be called Muslims".
The caretaker CM also announced three days of mourning throughout the province over the tragic incident.
Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti also strongly condemned the blast.
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.
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 directed 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.
Second major blast in Mastung over last 15 days
This is the second major blast that has terrorised Mastung over the last 15 days, Geo News reported.
Earlier this month, at least 11 people were injured in a blast in the same district.
Mastung has remained a target of terror attacks for the past several years with a major attack in July 2018 being one of the deadliest in the district's history during which at least 128 people were killed, The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which set up as an umbrella group of several terrorist outfits in 2007, called off a ceasefire with the federal government and ordered its terrorists to stage terrorist attacks across the country.
The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
In January, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque packed with worshippers during afternoon prayers in Pakistan's restive northwestern Peshawar city, killing over 100 people.
Last year, a similar attack inside a Shia mosque in the Kocha Risaldar area in the city killed 63 people.
(With inputs from PTI)