'Doomsday': Victims recall horror of Mastung blast

Published July 14, 2018
A youth injured in Mastung bomb blast is transported at a hospital in Bannu. — AFP
A youth injured in Mastung bomb blast is transported at a hospital in Bannu. — AFP

Friday was an eventful day for Pakistan. The nation was glued to their television screens to witness the return and arrest of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz — events that were expected and announced days before.

The unexpected happened miles away from Lahore, in Mastung's Daringarh area, where a suicide bomb blast ripped through a political gathering, killing about 128 people and injuring at least 150.

According to eyewitnesses, the bomb blast took place as soon as Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate for PB-35, stepped onto the stage to address his supporters.

Siraj was former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani's younger brother.

A staunch patriot, he had lost his only son to a terrorist attack in 2011, but remained undettered by threats to his person. Social media was awash on Friday with pictures of him holding up the Pakistan flag.

A man holds up pictures of his children who were victims of the Mastung blast. — Photo courtesy: Hafeezulah Sheerani
A man holds up pictures of his children who were victims of the Mastung blast. — Photo courtesy: Hafeezulah Sheerani

Chaos had spread across the area soon after the bomber struck, with people looking for loved ones who had headed to the BAP gathering.

Abdul Khaliq was one of those people.

Three of his sons had gone to the BAP rally to hear Siraj Raisani speak.

"I was at my home when I heard a loud explosion," he recalls.

He had rushed to the venue of the attack, worried about his sons, aged eight, 10 and 17.

"I spotted two of my sons dead," he remembers, his voice cracking.

The body of the third was found by a relative in Civil Hospital, Quetta.

Khaliq drives a truck and earns about Rs20,000 a month. His four surviving children — two daughters and two sons — are devastated over the killing of their brothers.

Khaliq terms the tragedy "doomsday".

Several residents of Daringarh, nearly all of whom have been scarred by Friday's gruesome attack, turned up at Khaliq's house to offer fateha for the victims.

People gather at Abdul Khaliq's house to mourn the victims of Mastung blast. — Photo courtesy: Hafeezullah Sheerani
People gather at Abdul Khaliq's house to mourn the victims of Mastung blast. — Photo courtesy: Hafeezullah Sheerani

"There is no house or family without a martyr," Abdul Razzaq, a resident of Daringarh, told our correspondent.

'Blood and cries of the injured all around'

Hafeezullah, 29, was also at the gathering at the time of the suicide blast. He is being treated for injuries at Civil Hospital Quetta. There is nothing, though, that can help him shake off the feeling of panic that followed the attack.

"There was blood all over the tent [in which the political gathering was hosted] and the cries of the injured all around," he remembers.

"I cannot forget it. I cannot forget the screams of agony after the blast."

He managed to escape death because he was at the other end of the tent, he says.

Almost 100 others are being treated around him. There is a government-imposed emergency in all state-run hospitals in Quetta.

Security officials inspect the site of the Mastung blast. — Photo courtesy: Hafeezullah Sheerani
Security officials inspect the site of the Mastung blast. — Photo courtesy: Hafeezullah Sheerani

In the aftermath of the deadly attack, BAP has cancelled a public meeting that was scheduled for Saturday (today) and announced three days of mourning for their dead.

The national flag will fly at half-mast on all government buildings in Balochistan for two days as its people mourn their dead.

The nation mourns with them.

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