Pakistan’s Senate deputy chairman escaped an assassination bid with injuries when an Islamic State suicide bomber targeted his convoy, killing 25 people and wounding 45 others in the restive Balochistan province.
The bomber targeted Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri when he came out of a mosque after addressing a gathering shortly after the Friday prayers in Mastung area of the province.
The area where the explosion took place is approximately 70 kilometres from provincial capital Quetta.
“It was a powerful blast and 25 people have been killed with 45 injured,” Balochistan government spokesman Anwar-ul- Haq said.
The Islamic State took responsibility for the attack on its official Amaq News Agency.
The blast took place as Haideri’s convoy left the local seminary where he was invited for a function.
Kakar said Haideri was not in the car which the bomber targeted. However, Senate director staff Ifthikar Mughal was killed along with the the driver and two associates of the Deputy Chairman Senate.
The Deputy Medical Superintendent at the Mastung Civil Hospital said most of the people killed were workers of the Jamiat-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-Fazal group).
“It was a very powerful explosion just as we came out and sat in the car. I am alive, Allah has saved my life. It was all very sudden. Broken pieces of the windscreen hit me. I am injured but safe. The driver and other people sitting next to me were badly injured,” said Haideri, who belongs to JUI-F.
Police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel rushed to the site of the attack which was cordoned off.
Maulana Fazulr Rehman condemned the attack on Haideri and said today’s attack was not the first on the party.
Rehman himself escaped two assassination attempts in 2011 and 2014.
“Many of our dear companions have been martyred [in this attack],” he said, adding that, “We have to continue to work for this country and the stability of Islam.”
District Police Officer Muhammad Ghazanfar said that initial evidence suggests it was a suicide attack.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack directed the relevant authorities to ensure the best medical treatment for the injured.
Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani and Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan also condemned the attack.
Rabbani said that it was suicide attack which targeted Haideri. “I have talked to chief secretary of Balochistan and asked him to airlift Haideri to Quetta,” he said.
TV footage showed Haideri’s vehicle was badly damaged.
Balochistan has been hit hard by attacks from terrorists and separatists in recent years and Mastung has seen a lot of unrest despite constant security operations in the area