Pakistan’s minister alleges external involvement in suicide attack in Balochistan; death toll rises to 60
Balochistan blast: A suicide assault in Pakistan targeted a parade celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday near the Madina Masjid in Mastung.
Sarfaraz Bugti, Pakistan’s interior minister, has implicated India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) spy agency for a suicide bombing in Balochistan on Friday that killed 60 people and injured 60 more. The Indian government has yet to issue an official response to Bugti’s allegations.
The attack was directed against a procession celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday near the Madina Masjid in Mastung. The attacker exploded his explosives near a police car where people had gathered for the parade, ripping through the mosque in the southern region of Balochistan.
Pakistani officials have long maintained that India funds militant groups in Pakistan, something India has consistently denied.
“Civil, military, and all other institutions will strike jointly against the elements involved in the Mastung suicide bombing,” Bugti told reporters in Balochistan’s capital, Quetta.
“RAW is involved in the suicide attack,” he stated, without providing further specifics or evidence.
Wasim Baig, a spokesman for Balochistan’s health department, said seven additional people had died in hospital since Friday, raising the death toll, and that more patients remained in critical condition, according to news agency Reuters.
At least five people were murdered in a second attack on a mosque in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday. On Saturday, police submitted a report to begin an inquiry, stating that they had sent DNA from the suicide bomber to be analyzed.
There has been no claim of responsibility for either incident. Terror strikes in Pakistan’s western provinces have cast a pall over preparations and public campaigning in the run-up to January’s national elections, although the attacks have primarily targeted security forces up until now.
The Pakistani Taliban (TTP), which has claimed credit for some of Pakistan’s worst strikes since its inception in 2007, denied involvement for Friday’s explosions.
The Dawn reported on Saturday that a FIR with murder and terrorist charges had been filed against an unidentified attacker, citing a statement from the Counter-terrorist Department (CTD).
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the attack, Balochistan’s caretaker government declared three days of mourning.
The Pakistan daily also provided a timeline demonstrating how Pakistan has “witnessed an increase in terror activities in recent months, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, since the TTP broke its ceasefire with the government in November last year.”
Earlier this month, at least 11 people were injured in a bomb in the same district, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah; a week earlier, an unidentified man gunned down a security official at a bus stop. Unidentified attackers targeted a polio vaccination team in the Killi Sour Karez district on the outskirts of Mastung in May this year, killing a police officer, according to the report.