At least 24 killed after militant organization stages assault on returning pilgrims in Taftan district of Balochistan.
At least 24 people, including several Shia pilgrims, were killed in a suicide bombing in the Taftan district of Balochistan late on Sunday, as the banned militant group Jaish-ul-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack.
Nearly 300 Shia pilgrims were returning from Iran after visiting holy Muslim sites and were staying at two adjacent hotels, the Al-Murtaza and the Al-Hashmi. According to officials, a suicide bomber initially entered the Al-Murtaza Hotel. “A suicide bomber detonated his vest inside the hotel, causing a massive explosion,” said a senior police official, adding the first detonation was followed by gunfire and more explosions.
“At least four suicide bombers attacked the hotels,” said the police official. “After the first blast, armed men stormed into the hotel and started indiscriminate firing,” he added. He said the majority of the deceased belonged to the Turi tribe of the Kurram Agency.
The Jaish-ul-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack. “Our mujahideen carried out attacks on Shia pilgrim in Taftan,” Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the group, told Quetta-based journalists from an undisclosed location.
Khan Wasseh, spokesman for the Frontier Corps, confirmed the incident. “Three suicide bombers detonated themselves while the fourth one was killed by security forces,” he said, adding, “At least 24 people—13 men, 10 women and one child—were killed, and 14 others injured, including 10 women and four men.”
Law enforcement authorities cordoned off the area shortly after the blast and started a search operation. Injured and deceased have been shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment.