Explosions set off near two Sunni Muslim mosques in the northwestern area of Pakistan on Friday have killed 10 people and left scores more injured, according to a police official here.
Amjad Ali, Malakands’s deputy commissioner of police, said the blasts were set off in the village of Baz Dera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Malakand district. He said the authorities fear rise in the death toll.
The blasts occurred while worshippers were inside the mosques during the Friday prayers. A local tribal official said some people were buried in the rubble. Both the mosques were badly damaged and the roof of one of them collapsed.
Shahid Ali, a worshiper said the attack came just as people were starting Friday prayers.
“I rushed out with others and saw several people bleeding and crying,” Ali told The Associated Press by telephone. “There was dust and smoke around.”
Ali said he rushed to the second mosque after it was attacked and saw that its roof had collapsed and the building was on fire.
“Many people are buried under the rubble,” he said.
Tribal police officer, Badshah Rehman, said rescue workers were trying to retrieve the dead and wounded from the debris.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but suspicion is expected to fall on the Pakistani Taliban.
Pakistan has been consumed in political turmoil for years. Militant groups supporting insurgents in Afghanistan have a strong presence in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Taliban, closely linked to al-Qaida, killed over a hundred people in election-related violence since April, in an effort to derail the run-up to national elections of May 11.
The Sunni militant group is intent on waging a bloody insurgency against secular leaning parties and regards elections as un-Islamic. The group has attacked Sunni mosques in the past, presumably, because the worshippers do not practice their extremist trademark of Islam. They have killed thousands of civilians and security personnel in the past years.
The Pakistani army has unsuccessfully retaliated by mounting numerous multiple operations against the militants in the northwest.
The explosions bring to the forefront the challenge of armed insurgency facing the new government set to take power under the leadership of former Prime Minister of Nawar Sharif.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N Party won the election and appears set to form the next government. The party of former cricket star Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, is expected to form the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Both politicians have expressed interest in negotiations with the Taliban, and Khan has even called on Pakistani troops to stop battling the militants and pull out of areas of the northwest. Now he faces the hard test of applying his election platform to the challenges of governing one of Pakistan’s most violent areas.