Dozens Killed in 'Heinous' Pakistan Bombing

At least 52 killed in attack on rally celebrating prophet's birthday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 29, 2023 4:30 AM CDT
More Than 50 Killed in Blast at Pakistan Rally
Youngsters in traditional dresses take part in a ceremony celebrating the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Thousands of Muslims take part in religious processions, ceremonies and distributing free meals among the poor to mark the holiday.   (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

A powerful bomb exploded near a mosque at a rally celebrating the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 52 people and injuring nearly 70 others, police and a government official said. The bombing occurred in Mastung, a district in Baluchistan province, where hundreds of people had gathered for a procession to celebrate the birth anniversary of the prophet, the AP reports. Muslims hold rallies and distribute free meals to people on the occasion, which is known as Mawlid an-Nabi.

Those injured in the blast were taken to nearby hospitals and some were in critical condition, government administrator Atta Ullah said. Abdul Rasheed, the District Health Officer in Mastung, said 30 bodies were taken to one hospital and 22 others were counted at a second hospital. Friday's bombing came days after authorities asked police to remain on maximum alert, saying militants could target rallies marking the birthday of Islam's prophet. In a statement, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti denounced the bombing and expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives. He said it was a "heinous act" to target people in the Mawlid an-Nabi procession.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Friday's bombing, but the Pakistani Taliban quickly distanced themselves from it. The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, which seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war. The Islamic State group has claimed previous deadly attacks in Baluchistan and elsewhere.

(More Pakistan stories.)

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