A suicide blast tore through two pilgrims’ buses on Tuesday evening near Dareen Garh area of Mastung, Balochistan, killing at least 18 and injuring over 40, reported Express News.
The two buses were part of a convoy carrying 103 pilgrims, including women and children, who were returning from Iran.
Police officer Faran Ali told The Express Tribune that at least 12 dead bodies and 13 injured were shifted to Quetta from Mastung. Ambulances were sent from Quetta to retrieve the dead bodies and injured and transferred to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH).
“I saw at least ten dead bodies and many injured lying in a pool of blood. The bus caught fire after the explosion,” said Arif, who sustained injuries in the attack.
Severe firing is reported to have taken place following the blast. Soon after the blast, security officials cordoned off the area.
An official of the bomb disposal squad confirmed that it was a suicide bomb attack.
“We have declared state of emergency at CMH, Provincial Sandeman Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex Teaching Hospital (BMC),” DIG police Quetta Mohammed Jaffar said.
A bomb disposal squad has also been summoned at the spot.
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.