A suicide bombing in Pakistan killed at least 52 people and injured more than 50 on Friday at a religious gathering to mark the birthday of Prophet Mohammed in a restive province bordering Afghanistan, health officials and police said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast which comes amid a surge in attacks by militant groups in western Pakistan, raising the stakes for security forces ahead of national elections scheduled for January next year.
“The bomber detonated himself near the vehicle of the Deputy Superintendent of Police,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Munir Ahmed told Reuters.
The blast ripped through near a mosque in Balochistan province where people were gathered for a procession to mark Mohammed’s birthday, which is a public holiday, Ahmed added.
At least 58 people were wounded, said Abdul Rasheed, a district health official, adding that the toll could rise as many people were in a serious condition.
Pakistan has seen a resurgence of attacks by Islamist militants since last year when a ceasefire broke down between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organization of various hardline Sunni Islamist groups.
The TTP denied it had carried out Friday’s attack.
Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti called the attack a “very heinous act”.
In July, more than 40 people were killed in a suicide bombing in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province at a religious political party’s gathering.