One dead, over a dozen injured in mosque blast in southwest Pakistan
At least one person was killed and more than a dozen injured by a blast at a mosque in southwestern Pakistan’s Quetta Friday, according to police, the latest incident in restive Balochistan province.
The blast occurred at a mosque on the outskirts of the provincial capital. However, officials have not confirmed if the explosion was caused by an attack.
“Three of the injured are in a critical condition including the prayer leader as the blast occurred near him,” Quetta’s police chief Abdur Razzaq Cheema told AFP.
The explosion was also confirmed by officials at the government-run Sandeman hospital where the injured are being treated.
It comes as residents flocked to the mosque for Friday prayers during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
There have been no claims of responsibility for the incident.
The blast comes weeks after a suicide blast claimed by the Islamic State group in provincial capital Quetta killed at least 20 people.
Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is rife with Islamist, separatist and sectarian insurgencies, even as incidents of violence have significantly dropped elsewhere in Pakistan.
But militants still retain the ability to carry out attacks, including in major urban centres and tightly-guarded targets, and analysts have long warned that Pakistan is yet to tackle the root causes of extremism.
Balochistan is key to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative.
CPEC seeks to connect China’s western province of Xinjiang with Gwadar, giving Beijing access to the Arabian Sea.