ISLAMABAD - Pakistani officials said Friday that a series of attacks, including suicide bombings and a militant raid, killed at least 62 people and injured many more, marking one of the deadliest days the nation has witnessed in recent months.
Most of the casualties occurred in Mastung, a volatile district in southwestern Baluchistan province, where a suicide bomber struck a religious procession marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.
Police and hospital officials said the powerful blast killed at least 53 devotees and wounded dozens of others.
Abdul Razaq, the district deputy commissioner, confirmed the casualties, saying a top police officer was also among the dead. He told reporters that several injured had received severe injuries.
In this photo provided by District Police Office, a boy injured in a bomb explosion receives treatment at a hospital, in Mastung near Quetta, Pakistan, Sept. 29, 2023.
Pakistani caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Interior Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti condemned the violence against innocent devotees, saying that 'terrorists have no faith or religion.'
Eyewitnesses said that it took a while before rescue teams arrived at the blast's site because of the area's remoteness.
'I saw that many people were covered in blood. No one was around to pick them up and take them to the hospitals,' a survivor told VOA.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the violence in a district where militants linked to a regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K, are active.
Earlier this month, a roadside bomb explosion in Mastung injured 11 people, including a senior religious party leader, with IS-K claiming responsibility. That attack occurred a day after Pakistani security forces announced the killing of key IS-K commanders in a district counterterrorism raid.
Meanwhile, police in northwestern Pakistan said a twin suicide bomb attack on a mosque inside a district police headquarters during Friday afternoon prayers killed five worshippers and injured 12 others.
A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the compound while another detonated explosives strapped to his body inside the main prayer hall, police said.
Nisar Ahmed, the Hangu district police chief, told reporters that the mosque's roof caved in because of the impact of the blast, trapping up to 40 people under the rubble. He said rescue efforts were underway to retrieve the victims.
People offer funeral prayers for a blast victim in Mastung district on Sept. 29, 2023 following a suicide bomb attack targeting a procession marking the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
The United States condemned Friday's deadly bombings. "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We will continue to stand with Pakistan in the face of these vicious attacks," Donald Blome, the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad, said on X, formerly Twitter.
Separately, the Pakistani military said Friday that an overnight shootout with 'terrorists' near the Afghan border had killed four soldiers.
The clashes erupted when militants linked to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, attempted to 'infiltrate from Afghanistan into Pakistan' in the Zhob district of Baluchistan, the military's media wing said. It added that the exchange of fire had also killed three militants and wounded several others.
TTP, a globally declared terrorist group, operates out of sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border and has killed hundreds of Pakistani security forces in bomb and gun raids this year.
The TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, said in a statement sent to the media that it was not behind the bombings in Mastung and Hangu.
VOA's Urdu Service contributed to this report.