Published On: Sun, Oct 1st, 2023
Published in Category: Quetta

At least 58 people martyred in three suicide blasts in Mastung district of Balochistan & Hangu district of KP

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MASTUNG/QUETTA//HANGU/ISLAMABAD: At least 58 people were martyred and many others injured in three suicide blasts in Mastung district of Balochistan and Hangu district of Khyber Pakhutnkhwa on Friday.

At least 53 people, including a police officer, were killed while dozens were injured in what officials believe was a suicide blast near a 12th Rabiul Awwal procession in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Friday.

Mastung District Headquarter Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Nisar Ahmed told media that 16 bodies were brought to the facility while Shaheed Naqab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Memorial Hospital CEO Dr. Saeed Mirwani confirmed they received 32 bodies.

Five bodies were brought to the Civil Hospital Quetta, the facility’s spokesperson, Dr. Wasim Baig, said.

Dr. Mirwani said over 100 wounded persons were brought to the hospital of which those in critical condition were referred to Quetta.

Meanwhile, Dr Nisar said 20 people were receiving treatment at the Mastung DHQ.

Unverified images and videos emerging afterward depicted bloodied corpses and severed limbs strewn about as bystanders assessed the extent of the damage.

Mastung Assistant Commissioner (AC) Atta-ul-Munim told media that the explosion took place when people were gathering for an Eid-i-Miladun Nabi procession near Madina Masjid at Alfalah Road.

“The bomber detonated himself near the vehicle of the deputy superintendent of police (DSP),” Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Munir Ahmed told a foreign news agency, adding that the blast took place near the mosque where people were gathering for a procession to mark Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday, which is a public holiday.

The Mastung AC had identified the martyred DSP as Nawaz Gishkori. SHO Lehri also confirmed that the explosion was a “suicide blast”.

“A procession of hundreds of people came out of the Madina mosque and as it reached Al Falah road a suicide bomber targeted it,” said Mastung Deputy Commissioner Abdul Razzaq Sasoli.

The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan denied it had carried out the attack.

Balochistan Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said rescue teams had been dispatched to Mastung. “The enemy wants to destroy religious tolerance and peace in Balochistan with foreign blessings,” Achakzai said. “The explosion is unbearable,” he said, appealing urgently for blood donors to help treat the wounded.

Later in a press conference, the minister said the death toll in the blast “is immensely unfortunate”. He revealed that a number of families had buried their loved ones without bringing them to the hospital, adding that the government had not included these people in the official death toll.

“As far as the injuries are concerned, a number of people are in critical condition and they are being moved to intensive care units and trauma centres,” Achakzai stated, adding that if their condition further deteriorated, the wounded may be air lifted to Karachi from Quetta.

In a media talk, Balochistan Inspector General of Police (IGP) Abdul Khalique Sheikh said authorities had initiated action to prevent such incidents of terror in the future.

“Some groups were active in Mastung earlier and operations are under way to counter them,” he stated, adding that the outlawed Daesh had previously claimed responsibility for such attacks in the past.

Talking about Friday’s attack, he said a police official sacrificed his life while attempting to stop a suicide bomber while three other personnel, including a DSP, sustained injuries in the blast.

“The aim of terrorism is to create chaos and instability in Balochistan,” he said. “Police have been ordered to take strong action against the elements involved in the bombing and those providing them shelter.”

President Dr. Arif Alvi and Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar have strongly denounced the explosion in Mastung.

In their separate statements, they expressed deep grief and sorrow over the death of people in the incident. They also commiserated with the bereaved families.

They directed the authorities concerned to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said the government is determined to root out terrorism from the country.

Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti has strongly condemned the incident. He said all resources will be mobilized in the rescue operation.

In a statement, he said terrorists have no religion. He said policy of zero tolerance is being pursued against terrorists.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi has strongly condemned the blast in Mastung. In a statement, he said such cowardly terrorist acts cannot shake the nation's resolve. He said entire Pakistani nation is united against terrorism.

He reaffirmed the commitment to root out the menace of terrorism with the cooperation of security forces and the people.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Ali Mardan Khan Domki, strongly condemning the blast has announced three days mourning in the province. In a statement, he directed the concerned to provide better health facilities to injured people.

Former prime minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said he was “deeply saddened by the cowardly attack on innocent people” and that such heinous acts had “no place in our country”. “May justice be swift for those responsible,” he added. Shehbaz Sharif 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.

In its condemnation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it was “unacceptable that the residents of Balochistan are compelled to live in constant fear amid deteriorating law and order”.

“Those responsible for this heinous attack must be brought to justice. HRCP believes, however, that hyper-securitisation will not resolve the security problem in the province,” it added.

The PTI also condemned the incident and demanded that the injured be provided with quality treatment facilities. It further demanded that the “federal and provincial governments give up political revenge and oppression and fascism against innocent citizens”, and instead “focus on dealing with a real threat like terrorism”.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the scenes of Mastang blast were tragic and prayed for the families of the martyred. “Human life is sacred, and the terrorists should know that we as a nation will not stand idly by as they try return us to a era of bloodshed,” he said in a social media post.

PPP leader Sherry Rehman, while condemning the incident, extended sympathy and solidarity with the grieving families and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.

She also requested PPP workers to reach hospitals in Balochistan for assistance in relief operations and blood donations.

“The growing incidence of terrorism in Mustang is a matter of concern. Strict action should be taken against the terrorists involved in the attack,” she added.

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".

Meanwhile at least five people were killed while 12 sustained injuries when two suicide blasts rocked a mosque located inside the premises of the Doaba police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu on Friday, according to KP interim Information Minister Feroze Jamal.

In a statement, the minister said that two suicide bombers, traveling in a vehicle, managed to reach the mosque but were met with resistance by the police officers stationed at the mosque entrance.

He explained, “One of the attackers was killed in a shootout with the police outside the mosque, while the other managed to penetrate the worship place.”

Jamal went on to mention that two officers were also injured during the exchange of fire, adding that the prompt response of the police led to the evacuation of worshippers upon hearing gunfire.

He emphasised that the damage could have been significantly worse if strong resistance was not shown by the police.

Separately, Hangu District Police Officer Nisar Ahmed confirmed the casualties and injuries to a private TV channel.

He said the first blast took place at the entrance of the police station after which a number of people gathered at the site. “A few minutes later, another blast occurred inside a mosque situated in the premises of the police station.”

DPO Ahmed said the second blast took place during the Friday sermon. “The roof of the mosque caved in due to the impact of the explosion,” the official stated, adding that nearly 30 to 40 people were reported to be stuck under the rubble.

The official further said that heavy machinery had been called to retrieve the bodies and wounded persons.

Rescue 1122 Spokesperson Bilal Faizi told media that six of the injured individuals were in critical condition and were currently receiving treatment. According to Rescue 1122, the injured persons were shifted to Combined Military Hospital Kohat.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

An eyewitness, Shahid Khan Zaman, told media that at the time of the explosion, there were approximately 60 to 70 people inside the mosque.

According to him, the suspected suicide bomber tried to enter through the mosque’s gate, but the resistance from the police allowed most of the people to leave the premises. He added that the second suicide bomber detonated himself inside the mosque.

Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hassan Azhar Hayat visited the blast site and expressed the nation’s pride in its martyrs. He commended the officers for their bravery, acknowledging their role in averting significant destruction.

He also stated, “These individuals (attackers) cannot be regarded as Muslims, let alone humans,” while deeming the attack a regrettable incident.

Meanwhile, in a statement, KP Caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan sought a report on the incident from the police and instructed authorities to expedite the rescue operation.

He further directed the concerned commissioner and deputy commissioner to supervise the rescue activities and assure that best medical treatment was provided to the wounded. The CM also imposed an emergency in hospitals across Hangu.

President Dr. Arif Alvi and Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar have strongly condemned the blasts in Mastung and Hangu.

They expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of lives in the blast. Praying for forgiveness and condoling with their families, they instructed to provide best medical treatment to those injured in the blasts.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi has strongly condemned the blast in Hangu.

In a statement, he said such cowardly terrorist acts cannot shake the nation's resolve. He said entire Pakistani nation is united against terrorism. He reaffirmed the commitment to root out the menace of terrorism with the cooperation of security forces and the people.

Separately, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his grief at the loss of lives in Hangu blasts, saying such attacks on the sacred day showed “the malevolent intentions of terrorists”. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Shehbaz stated that the nation stood united with the law enforcement agencies dedicated to safeguarding the country.

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf also strongly denounced the twin blasts, saying that targeting the lives of innocent citizens was an abhorrent and cowardly act that warrants the harshest condemnation. He further noted that such tactics by anti-state elements were aimed at disrupting peace within the country.