July 15, 2024

A suicide bomb attack targeting a religious procession in Balochistan’s Mastung has killed dozens of people and wounded many others.

Quetta, Pakistan – On a cold Friday evening, dozens of people huddled outside Quetta Civil Hospital, their bodies heaving with sobs.

Just hours earlier, a suicide bomb blast had ripped through a religious gathering in Mastung, killing at least 52 people and wounding dozens of others.

“All I saw were dead bodies and injured after the blast”, said Barakat Ali, a young man standing helplessly outside the hospital’s trauma centre where many of the wounded people had been rushed.

His clothes were soaked in blood.

“I cannot forget the hue and cry of the injured battling for their lives on the spot”, Ali told Al Jazeera, tears flowing down his face.

‘Maximum damage’

Authorities say the attacker detonated himself in the middle of a crowd that had gathered near a mosque to take part in a procession celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

“The suicide bomber blew himself up inside the procession to cause maximum damage”, a senior security official, who requested anonymity since they were not authorised to speak to the media, told Al Jazeera.

Shortly after the explosion in Balochistan province, in southwestern Pakistan, another bombing was carried out at a mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in the country’s northwest. At least five people were killed in the second attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for either attack.

[Saadullah Akhter/Al Jazeera]
Dozens of wounded people were rushed to the hospital in Quetta [Saadullah Akhter/Al Jazeera]

At the hospital in Quetta, the largest city of Balochistan, the survivors who narrowly escaped death were grappling with the aftermath of the attack.

“Dust and storm, [that’s what] I saw when I stood”, said Saifullah, a young man possibly in his late 30s who lost a brother in the blast.

‘What was his sin?’

Besides the grief, a sense of anger was also palpable.

“We demand justice and the terrorists should be punished”, a woman cried. “Is this justice? I lost a young son,” she continued.

Two other women wearing traditional Balochi dress were accompanying the devastated mother.

“Why my son has been martyred, what was his sin?” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Interactive_Pakistan_Friday blasts_Mastung

Some relatives of victims demanded that both the Balochistan government and the federal government provide better healthcare to the wounded.

“Our loved ones are not getting proper treatment,” Maulana Abdul Rasool, a religious leader, complained. He said despite repeated requests, the hospital administration was not cooperative in providing better healthcare to those battling for their lives.

Hospital spokesperson Waseem Baig said 51 people wounded in Mastung were receiving treatment there. Seven of them were in serious condition.

Balochistan caretaker home minister, Zubair Jamali, visited the hospital and promised that those responsible for the attack would be held accountable.

“This is unacceptable, we will bring the terrorists to book,” he said, adding that “terrorism” was a serious threat.

“Really pained to witness the innocent people [covered] in blood”, Jamali added.

Pakistan has seen a dramatic surge in armed attacks this year, with hundreds of such incidents recorded in recent months.

Earlier this year, more than 100 people were killed in a bomb blast at a mosque situated inside the police quarters in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

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