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Bombing in Pakistan kills dozens at Muslim celebration

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A powerful bomb detonated near a mosque at an event celebrating the birthday of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 52 people and injuring nearly 70 others, authorities say.

The bombing occurred in Mastung, a district in Baluchistan province, where around 500 people had gathered for a procession to celebrate the birth anniversary of Muhammad. Muslims hold rallies and distribute free meals to people on the occasion, which is known as Mawlid an-Nabi.

TV footage and social media videos showed the aftermath of the bombing. An open area near the mosque was strewn with the shoes of the dead and wounded. People were seen rushing the injured to receive medical care, and a state of emergency has been declared at local hospitals, which have issued calls for blood donations, the Associated Press reported.

Several of those injured in the blast were taken to the hospital in critical condition, government administrator Atta Ullah said. Abdul Rasheed, the District Health Officer in Mastung, said 30 bodies were taken to one hospital and 22 others were counted at a second hospital. 

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes amid a surge in activity by militant groups in Pakistan. 

The Pakistan Taliban is known to target security forces, but it distanced itself from the attack. The terror group claims it does not target places of worship and civilians. 

Authorities had earlier asked police to remain on maximum alert, saying militants could target rallies commemorating the birthday of Muhammad. 

Another blast Friday hit a mosque located on the premises of a police station in Hangu, a district in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, injuring seven people, a local police officer told the Associated Press.

He said the mud-brick mosque collapsed due to the impact and rescuers were attempting to remove debris and pull worshipers out of the rubble. Police have not yet determined the cause of that blast. 

There were around 40 people worshiping inside the mosque, mostly police officers, when the blast went off.

Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi has condemned the attack and requested that authorities provide all possible assistance to the wounded and the victims’ families. 

In a statement, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti denounced the bombing and expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives. He said it was a “heinous act” to target people in the Mawlid an-Nabi procession.

This is a developing story and will be updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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