QUETTA: A suicide bomber targeting a political rally in southwest Pakistan Friday killed 149 people, officials told AFP, in one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history.
The blast — which was claimed by the Islamic State group — ripped through the crowd in the town of Mastung near the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta.
“The death toll has risen to 149,” Balochistan home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told AFP. A senior provincial government official also confirmed the figure, adding that 186 others were injured.
Emergency workers shuttled victims to nearby vehicles from the bombed-out compound as bystanders sobbed in the darkness due to the lack of electricity in the impoverished area.
Victims in blood-smeared clothes were taken to hospitals in Mastung and nearby Quetta, where they were greeted by tense crowds of mourners, an AFP reporter said. The deceased could be seen covered in shrouds.
“Human remains and red bloody pieces of flesh were littered everywhere in the compound. Injured people were crying in pain and fear,” said local journalist Attah Ullah.
According to senior provincial official Saeed Jamali, the bomber detonated in the middle of a compound where a political meeting was taking place. Another senior official, Qaim Lashari, also confirmed it was a suicide blast.
The explosion killed Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial seat with the newly formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), provincial home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told AFP.
“Mir Siraj Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta,” he added. Raisani was the younger brother of former provincial chief minister Mir Aslam Raisani.
It came hours after four people were killed and 39 injured when a bomb hidden inside a motorcycle detonated near a Pakistani politician’s convoy in Bannu on Friday, near the border with Afghanistan.
The politician — Akram Khan Durrani, a candidate of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) party — survived, police said. No group has yet claimed responsibility for that attack.
On Tuesday, a bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban targeted a rally by the Awami National Party (ANP) in the city of Peshawar.— AFP