QUETTA: A bomb blast inside a mosque just before Friday prayers killed four people, including the prayer leader, and left 25 others injured in the Kuchlak area on the outskirts of the provincial capital.
The explosion was carried out with the help of a time device, which was planted under the wooden chair of the prayer leader, when he started delivering the Friday sermon, said police and bomb disposal squad officials.
While police said they were investigating the case and gathering details about the victims, locals said the prayer leader Hafiz Hamdullah, who lost his life in the blast, was a younger brother of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the blast in the Al-Haj mosque situated on the Quetta-Chaman highway.
Area people say one of the deceased was brother of Afghan Taliban leader
Sources said around 50 people were present in the mosque when the blast ripped through its main hall. The deceased were later identified as Hafiz Hamdullah, Haji Mohammad Sarwar, Rahim Gul and Mohammad Khan.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Quetta, Abdul Razzaq Cheema, said: “An explosive time device was planted under the wooden chair of the prayer leader.” He told Dawn that around three kilograms of explosive material was used in the blast.
Another senior police officer, Shafqat Janjua, said it was too early to say who the real target of the blast was. “Investigation will reveal the target,” he said, adding that doors and windowpanes of the mosque were destroyed and nearby houses were damaged in the blast.
“Due to Eid holidays the students of the seminary associated with Al-Haj mosque were not present, otherwise the casualties might have been more,” said Hidayatullah, an area resident who suffered injuries in the blast, while talking to Dawn from hospital bed.
“Some four dozen people were present when I entered the mosque and Mullah Hamdullah was delivering his speech.
Just two minutes later a powerful blast took place inside the mosque.
“Although I got injured I saw the wall behind the prayer leader badly damaged and people lying on the floor of the mosque.”
Sources said the powerful blast caused panic in the area and people rushed to the mosque. Police and personnel of Frontier Corps also reached the spot along with rescue workers and started shifting the injured to Kuchlak hospital. However, the bodies and the wounded victims were later shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta where Health Minister Nasibullah Marri had declared a state of emergency.
“We have received four bodies and 25 injured at the hospital,” said Dr Wasim Baig, spokesman for the Civil Hospital Quetta.
He described the condition of four of the 25 injured victims as serious.
The area people said Hafiz Hamdullah was the brother of Mullah Haibatullah but officials did not confirm it. “I have no knowledge about it,” DIG Cheema said.
He told Dawn that those telling this to the media might have some information about it.
The bomb disposal squad collected evidence from the spot. They confirmed that a time device was used for the attack.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Governor retired Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Home Minister Ziaullah Langove strongly condemned the blast and said that terrorists targeted innocent people.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019