Police officer among 52 dead in blast near Mastung mosque

QUETTA/MASTUNG: The casualties in the suicide blast in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Friday crawled up to 52, which included a police officer, while 60 others were reportedly injured as per the district administration.

The deadly blast, the second major blast in the district in September, ripped through an area near a mosque, leaving 43 dead on the spot.

Mastung district administration said that 51 wounded people were shifted to Quetta. 

It said that Mastung’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nawaz Gashkori is among the deceased.

Balochistan police chief said that the cop tried to stop the suicide bomber upon suspicion when the latter blew himself up. He said that three police constables are also among the injured. 

Earlier, Assistant Commissioner Atta Ul Munim said that the explosion took place where people were gathering to mark Eid Miladun Nabi — the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The AC said that the explosion — which law enforcers believe is a suicide blast — took place near Madina Mosque. He said that the people had to participate in a procession later.

Provincial Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said those critically injured in the blast are being shifted to Quetta with emergency enforced across the city’s hospitals.

Achakzai said that if required, arrangements should be made for the immediate transfer of the seriously injured to Karachi. The hospitals in Karachi are being contacted on behalf of the health department, he added.

“The provincial government will bear all the expenses for the treatment of the injured,” he highlighted.

The district administration of Quetta said that more than 30 injured in the blast are being transferred to Shaheed Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Memorial Hospital.

The hospital management said medical aid was being provided to the injured.

Balochistan Inspector General of Police (IGP) Abdul Khalique Shaikh said DSP Mastung embraced martyrdom while stopping the suicide bomber.

“The aim of terrorism is to create insecurity and instability in Balochistan. Action has been ordered against the elements involved in the blast and those supporting it,” he said.

The IG added that three more police officials were injured in the explosion, while details of casualties will be released soon.

“The bomber detonated himself near the vehicle of the Deputy Superintendent of Police,” Munir Ahmed, the deputy inspector general of police, told Reuters.

At least 58 people were wounded in the Balochistan blast, said Abdul Rasheed, a district health official, adding that the toll could rise as many people were in serious condition.

Television footage of the attack’s aftermath showed hundreds of people helping the injured into ambulances.

This is the second major blast that has terrorised Mastung over the last 15 days. In the previous blast on September 14, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah and several others were injured.

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 over 200 were injured and at least 128 were killed, including Mir Siraj Khan Raisan — a provincial assembly candidate from the then-newly-formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

‘3-day mourning’

Provincial caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Khan Domki has announced three-day mourning across the province following the tragedy while Achakzai said the national flag will fly at half-mast on government buildings during the mourning period.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq strongly condemned the incident, expressing regret over the loss of lives in the incident.

PM Kakar also poured in his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the explosion. He directed the authorities concerned to provide medical aid to the injured.

Balochistan interim Interior Minister Zubair Jamali has condemned the Mastung blast, seeking a report of the incident.

President Dr Arif Alvi has also condemned the deadly explosion in the Balochistan district.

Condemning the terror attack, caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said the nation’s morale cannot be weakened by the cowardly acts of terrorism.

“Entire Pakistan is united against the scourge of terrorism. Terrorist elements do not deserve any concession,” the minister said.

He added that the government will completely eliminate terrorism with cooperation from the security forces and the public.

‘Zero-tolerance towards terrorists’

Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti, in a statement, condemned the blast and noted that the state had a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorists.

Shehbaz Sharif, the former prime minister and president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, expressed sorrow over the lost lives while condemning it.

“It is concerning to see a rise in such incidents in Mastung,” he said, asking the government to ensure that those injured received the best of the treatment.

Sindh Interim Chief Minister Maqbool Baqar condemned the blast, according to a statement from his spokesperson.

The chief minister, the statement read, said that those involved in taking the lives of innocent people are the “enemies of humanity”.

‘Wretched beasts’

Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP) leader Maulana Owais Noorani said in a post on X — formerly known as Twitter — that he was deeply saddened to hear about the deaths and injuries.

The political leader, who served as a special assistant to the prime minister in the previous government, termed those involved in the blast as “wretched beasts”.

Former Sindh governor Imran Ismail “strongly” condemned the terrorist attack in Mastung and slammed the terrorists for their cruel act of taking innocent lives.

“The whole nation stands with the people of Mastung in this difficult time,” he said, hoping the law enforcers would soon hold the terrorists accountable.

Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi also condemned the blast as he expressed sorrow over the loss of previous lives.

He extended his sympathies to the families who lost their loved ones in the explosion.

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