HomeNewsBlast hits prophet’s birthday celebration in Pakistan, killing at least 31

Blast hits prophet’s birthday celebration in Pakistan, killing at least 31

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ISLAMABAD — At least 31 people were killed and more than 60 injured in a blast targeting a Pakistani procession to mark the birthday of prophet Muhammad on Friday, local police official Azam Khan said, as authorities cautioned that the death toll was likely to rise.

The attack hit a rally in the district of Mastung in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Jan Achakzai, information minister of the provincial government, said the bombing amounted to one of the worst attacks in recent memory in the province, which is regularly struck by smaller blasts and targeted killings.

In a separate incident that took place around the same time on Friday, a blast hit a mosque far away in northwestern Pakistan’s Hangu district, killing at least two people, the Rescue 1122 group said in a statement. It was unknown whether the two blasts were linked.

Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, the provincial police chief of Baluchistan, said at least one suicide attacker was suspected to be behind the blast in Mastung. A police officer who tried to prevent the attack was among the victims, the chief said in a statement.

Sarfraz Bugti, the interim interior minister, condemned the “heinous attack” and vowed to “use all resources for rescue and relief operations.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack and the Pakistani Taliban, which operates independently from the Afghan Taliban, denied that it was involved.

Pakistani officials have voiced mounting concerns over Pakistani Taliban attacks in recent months, which have primarily targeted police or military. Speaking to local media outlets, a hospital official near the blast confirmed that at least one police officer was among the victims on Friday.

There are also concerns in Pakistan over other groups that have staged recent attacks, including the regional Islamic State branch and Baluchistan separatist groups.

Nawaz Khan reported from Peshawar, Pakistan.

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