Sat, 02 Dec 2023

At Least 42 Dead in Bombing of Pakistan Religious Rally

Voice of America
29 Sep 2023, 21:05 GMT+10

ISLAMABAD - At least 42 people were killed and dozens more injured in southwestern Pakistan Friday when a suspected suicide bomb blast ripped through a religious procession, police and local media say.

The attack near a mosque in Mastung, a volatile district in Baluchistan province, targeted a rally of Muslim devotees marking the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, witnesses said.

Pakistani Interior Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti condemned the deadly violence against innocent devotees, saying that "terrorists have no faith or religion.'

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the violence in a district where militants linked to a regional affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K, are active.

Earlier this month, a roadside bomb explosion in Mastung injured 11 people, including a senior religious party leader, with IS-K claiming responsibility. That attack occurred a day after Pakistani security forces announced the killing of key IS-K commanders in a district counterterrorism raid.

Meanwhile, police in northwestern Pakistan said a bomb exploded in a mosque inside a district police headquarters during Friday afternoon prayers, killing two worshipers and injuring several others.

Nisar Ahmed, the Hangu district police chief, told reporters that the roof of the mosque caved in because of the impact of the blast, trapping up to 40 people under the rubble. He said rescue efforts were underway to retrieve the victims.

Separately, the Pakistani military said Friday that an overnight shootout with 'terrorists' near the Afghan border had killed four soldiers.

The clashes erupted when militants linked to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, attempted to 'infiltrate from Afghanistan into Pakistan' in Zhob district of Baluchistan, the military's media wing said. It added that the exchange of fire had also killed three militants and wounded several others.

TTP, a globally declared terrorist group, operates out of sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border and has killed hundreds of Pakistani security forces in bomb and gun raids this year.

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