A police officer stands guard by a cordoned off area in Quetta, the provincial capital of restive Balochistan province, Pakistan, 12 September 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/FAYYAZ AHMED

Religious leader among 11 wounded by blast in southwest Pakistan

Islamabad, Sep 14 (EFE).- At least 11 people, including a leader of the religious party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) were wounded on Thursday in an explosion in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Balochistan.

“The convoy of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was going from Quetta to Kalat when it was targeted by a blast (…). So far 11 people including JUIF leader Hafiz Hamdullah have been reported injured in the blast,” local police official Sana Ullah told EFE.

The vehicle in which Hamdullah was travelling was also carrying the driver and two members of his security team, who were wounded in the blast, which took place in the Mustang district.

The other injured members of the convoy were travelling in a separate vehicle, which was hit by the force of the explosion, the officer added.

Ullah said that as per the preliminary probe, the attack was carried out by a remote-controlled explosion.

Last month, a JUI-F rally was targeted in a suicide bombing that killed at least 63 people, while around 120 were wounded. The attack was later claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, a regional branch of the IS.

During the rally on Aug. 2, a suicide bomber had detonated himself close to the venue in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing dozens of people instantly.

In March, the IS had also claimed a suicide attack that killed 10 people, mainly police officers in southern Afghanistan.

In January, it carried out one of the worst attacks against security forces in Pakistan, killing around 100 people.

Pakistan has witnessed a surge in terrorism-related incidents following the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Taliban.

Islamabad has accused the Afghan Taliban of providing “safe havens” to the militants of groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the local faction of Taliban. However, the Afghan Taliban has rejected the allegations.

According to a report released in early July by the Pakistan Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, there were 271 militant attacks in Pakistan in the first half of 2023 that killed 389 people and injured 656 others.

This represents a significant increase compared to the same period in 2022, when Pakistan suffered 151 attacks that left 293 killed and 487 wounded. EFE