South Asia

At least 49 killed in Pakistan mosque blast

Rescue workers and a policeman stand at the site of an explosion in a mosque in Pakistan's Sindh province on Friday.

Rescue workers and a policeman stand at the site of an explosion in a mosque in Pakistan's Sindh province on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Khalid Hussain



At least 49 people were killed in a powerful explosion at a crowded Shia mosque in Pakistan during Friday prayers.



Police said the blast was caused either by a suicide bomber or an explosive device, which went off when the mosque was at its fullest on Friday afternoon in the centre of Shikarpur, a city in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh.





"We are trying to ascertain the nature of the blast," said Shikarpur police chief Saqib Ismail Memon. "A bomb disposal squad is examining the scene."



Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo, head of the regional civil administration, said that the death toll had reached 49.



In chaotic scenes that followed the blast, part of the mosque collapsed after the explosion, burying some of the wounded under rubble. Bystanders pulled people from the debris and piled them into cars for the journey to hospital.



Locals said there were not enough ambulances and the army later sent additional vehicles to transport people to hospitals.



The atmosphere was tense in Shikarpur after the explosion, with shops boarded up and crowds of emotional residents massing outside hospitals.



"The entire city is in lockdown and there is tension in the air. There is a heavy police presence and the Rangers are patrolling the city," said Pariyal Marri, a local resident.



Jundullah, a splinter group of Pakistan's Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.



"Our target was the Shia mosque ... They are our enemies," said Fahad Marwat, a Jundullah spokesman.



Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, a Shia organisation, has called for a province-wide strike on Saturday in protest.



Sain Rakhio Merani, a regional police official, said the blast was probably caused by a bomb, although Pakistani television quoted some residents as saying they saw a man wearing a suicide vest.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 1:35:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/at-least-14-killed-in-pakistan-mosque-blast/article6838952.ece

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