At least 50 people have been killed in a suicide attack on a religious procession in Mastung in Pakistan’s Balochistan province after Muslims had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on 29 September. A separate blast has also been reported at a mosque in Hangu near Peshawar City in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Local officials report that the attack in Mastung took place as hundreds of people were leaving the mosque. A senior police officer, Nawaz Gishorki, was among those killed, and some have speculated that he may have been the target.
At the time of writing, the number of casualties at the mosque in Hangu currently stands at five, however reports indicate that some could be trapped under rubble after the roof collapsed. The mosque has an estimated capacity of 40 to 50 people and is part of a police complex.
No-one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has denied any involvement, with a spokesperson claiming that ‘mosques, seminaries, schools and public gatherings are not among our targets’.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW extends our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in today’s horrific attacks in Pakistan, and assure those waiting to hear news of their relatives of our prayers and solidarity. While the motivations for the attacks are currently unclear, Pakistan has become an increasingly dangerous place for citizens of all religions and beliefs as the Pakistani authorities have repeatedly failed to counter violent extremism and terrorism, whilst also often emboldening extremist Islamist elements by embracing dangerous rhetoric.’