A suicide bomber killed at least 38 people and wounded over 50 others, most of them policemen attending the funeral of a Pakistani police officer shot dead on Thursday, the last day of Ramzan, according to reports.
“At least 38 people have been killed and more than 50 injured,” according to senior police official Mohammad Tariq. “Most of the dead and injured are policemen.”
A son of the imam of the mosque at the police headquarters was among the dead, according to Dr. Syed Sarwar Shah from one hospital. Around 300 people were attending the funeral, including DIG (Operations) Fayyaz Sumbal, who has been confirmed dead in the blast.
Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for Pakistan’s umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban faction, claimed responsibility.
“We did it and soon you see another big attack in the next coming days,” he said. Pakistani authorities have been on alert for fear of attacks over the Eid holiday, which lasts until Sunday.
Shahid said the attack was to avenge those killed in U.S. drone strikes, which target Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt, on the Afghan border north of Baluchistan.
“We are at war with police and other security agencies. They are attacking us and we are targeting them,” Shahid said. “Anywhere and whenever we get the chance, we will target security forces, government officials and police,” he added.
The Pakistani Taliban have led an insurgency that has killed thousands of people across the country since July 2007, when the government raided an extremist mosque in the capital Islamabad.
But most recent attacks in Quetta have been linked to a Baloch separatist insurgency or sectarian violence, making the Taliban claim unusual.
Witnesses described the horror after the explosion.
“I was inside the mosque and we were lining up for the funeral prayers when a big blast took place. I came out and saw injured and dead bodies lying on the ground,” policeman Mohammad Hafiz told reporters. “I have no words to explain what I’ve seen. It was horrible.”
Another witness told reporters he saw dead bodies scattered everywhere.
“Most of the bodies were beyond recognition. We collected body parts and flesh,” he said in the interview broadcast by TV channel ARY. “Those who are killing people, even inside mosques, are not human beings, they are beasts. They are not Muslims, they have nothing to do with Islam. Allah will never pardon them,” he added.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack and ordered the best care for the injured.
The blast capped a bloody Ramzan in Pakistan, where at least 11 attacks have killed more than 120 people during the fasting month, which is one of the holiest times in the Islamic calendar. The month ends with the festival of Eid.
Early Wednesday a bomb killed eight people at the end of a football tournament in Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi, many of them young fans watching the game from the stands.
On Tuesday, Baloch separatist gunmen shot dead 14 people, including three security officials, 70 kilometers southeast of Quetta.