22 pilgrims killed in Pakistan suicide attack

QUETTA: A suicide bomber blew himself up near a bus full of Muslim pilgrims returning from Iran in Mastung, Balochistan leaving 22 dead and 20 injured on Tuesday evening.

The blast was targeting two buses full of 103 pilgrims who were traveling back after visiting sacred Shia shrines in Iraq and Iran.

Severe firing took place following the blast which resulted in security officials cordoning off the area.

“We have declared state of emergency at CMH, Provincial Sandeman Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex Teaching Hospital (BMC),” DIG police Quetta Mohammed Jaffar said.

The injured include security officials, women and children.

Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the blast.

Earlier, on January 1, a bomb blast targeted a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Taftan, a town in Balochistan bordering with Iran.

The blast had killed two people and left 31 injured.

Similarly, in October 2013, A car bomb hit a Frontier Corps (FC) van escorting a bus of Shia pilgrims in Dringarh, Mastung, killing two soldiers.

Frontier Corps and Balochistan Levies convoys were escorting five passenger buses of Shia pilgrims on the highway when they found a suspected car parked on the road.

“The buses were stopped from proceeding and two FC personnel got off and went near to search the car. As they got closer to the car, a huge explosion took place killing both on the spot,” Assistant Commissioner Mastung Shafqat Anwar told The Express Tribune.

After increasing number of attacks on Shia pilgrims, security on Quetta-Taftan highway was beefed up and the buses carrying Shia pilgrims were escorted by FC and Balochistan Levies personnel.

A large number of Shia pilgrims go to Iran to visit the sacred places through Quetta and most of them travel on passenger buses.  Balochistan provincial government held a high level meeting to devise a security plan ahead of Muharam to foil any possible terrorism attempts in Quetta and national highways.

SHIA SCHOLAR KILLED: Earlier terrorists killed a popular Shia Muslim scholar in Peshawar on Monday night, police and hospital officials said.

Allama Alim Al-Musvi was shot while walking to the mosque in the historic Qissa Khawani Bazaar of Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police said. “Two gunmen opened fire on the scholar and escaped in the narrow streets when he came out of his house and walked towards the mosque,” said local police official Fazal Jan. Al-Musvi was a locally respected scholar and used to deliver sermons at special Shia gatherings, he added. A government hospital spokesman, Jamil Khan, confirmed the death.

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