Islamabad: A suicide bomber attacked a crowded Shiite mosque in Chakwal city in Punjab province, about 80km south of Islamabad on Sunday, killing 22 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.
Violence in Pakistan has spread well beyond the Afghan border region, including a suicide bombing in Islamabad on Saturday that killed eight paramilitary personnel and a commando-style attack at a police academy last week in Lahore. No one claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.
Bloodbath: A man collects evidence at the site of the blast in Chakwal. Aamir Qureshi / AFP
Sunday’s suicide bomber set off his explosives at the entrance to the mosque during a religious congregation, said Nadim Hasan Asif, a top security official. He said the blast killed 22 people and injured at least 30.
Another police officer, Nasir Khan Durrani, said the attack could have been much worse. “Had he succeeded in exploding it inside, it could have caused a much bigger loss because there were hundreds of people inside,” he said.
Chaudhry Nasrullah, the top health official in Chakwal, confirmed 22 people were killed and at least 50 injured, a dozen of them critically.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack, saying it was masterminded by people who are against the state and want to give Islam a bad name.
(Asif Shahzad also contributed to this story.)