QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber attacked a funeral for a policeman in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 25 people, including a senior police officer, and wounding over 60, police said.
The funeral was being held in an open field outside a mosque in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. The somber ceremony was for a policeman who was gunned down earlier in the day as he traveled through the city in a vehicle with his children, said city police chief Mir Zubair Mehmood. Two of his children were wounded in the attack.
Most of the 25 dead and over 60 wounded in the suicide bombing were police officers, said police official Mohammed Aslam. Among those killed was the head of police operations in Baluchistan, Fayaz Sumbal, said Mehmood.
He said Sumbal had spotted the suicide bomber near the gate of the mosque before he detonated his explosives and asked police officers to quickly search the suspect. As officers began to question the bomber, he blew himself up, Mehmood said.
A police constable, Hassan Jan, said he saw bodies of his fellow officers and colleagues after the blast. “I am very sad for those who lost their lives in today’s suicide attack,” he said.
A prayer leader told Pakistan’s private Dunya news channel that people were lining up for the funeral when they heard a large explosion near the main gate of the mosque. “About 250 people were present for the funeral at the time,” he said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion will likely fall on Islamic militants based in the province.
Baluchistan is also home to separatists who have been waging a low-level insurgency against the governments for decades, but they rarely carry out suicide bombings.
The attack came a day before Muslims in Pakistan were to start celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of fasting month of Ramadan. Millions of Muslims elsewhere in the world began celebrating Eid on Thursday but Pakistan and some other nations start on Friday.