In the second instance of sectarian violence this week, 60 people were killed and more than 200 injured in a suicide attack on a Shia rally in Quetta. The suicide bomber was apparently part of the procession and detonated the bomb upon reaching Meezan Chowk in the heart of the city.
As in the case of the attack on a Shia procession in Lahore on Wednesday, unrest broke out as members of the gathering fired in the air and set vehicles afire. They even clashed with the police, already on alert in the restive province. According to the police, participants in the procession had been warned of a possible attack and advised to take an alternative route. The rally was being held to mark Al-Quds Day — an annual event opposing Israel's control of Jerusalem. This is one of the “anti-Zionist” processions held on the last Friday of Ramzan in most Muslim and Arab countries to protest the occupation and to express solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
While claiming responsibility for the Lahore attack, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had warned of more attacks on Shias everywhere. But till late evening no one had claimed responsibility for the Quetta attack.
Earlier in the day, one person was killed and four injured when a suicide bomber detonated himself outside an Ahmadi Ibadatgah (place of worship) in Mardan in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa. The bomber was trying to enter the Ibadatgah. On being intercepted by the police he blew himself up, killing a passer-by and injuring some others.
Condemning the attacks, the U.S. Embassy said the deliberate targeting of innocent Pakistanis and worshippers during Ramzan and while the country is recovering from the terrible monsoon flooding makes these acts particularly vicious.
“Moreover, attacks on minority communities are attacks on the foundation of democracy itself.”