İrem UZUN -TDO- Authorities in southwestern Pakistan say a powerful bomb blast ripped through a packed mosque during Friday evening prayers, killing at least 15 worshipers and injuring around 20 others. A senior police official was among those killed in the bombing in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan. Provincial police official, Abdul Razzaq Cheema, told reporters most of the victims were civilians. An investigation into the deadly attack was underway but it was not immediately known whether the slain officer was the target, Cheema added. Doctors said the death toll could rise because some of the wounded were brought to Quetta hospitals in critical condition.
Images from the scene showed rubble and debris strewn across the prayer courtyard of the mosque."We went to offer our prayers, when we went to bow our heads...there was a sudden explosion," Azmatullah, a survivor of the attack, told Al Jazeera."I was near the door, so I ran from there to my home, which is nearby," he added. The attack is the second such incident to target security forces in Quetta this week. On Tuesday, at least two people were killed and more than 14 wounded after an improvised explosive device mounted on a motorcycle exploded in a market area.
The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, saying it was carried out by a suicide bomber. ISIS claimed the blast caused 60 casualties, including 20 dead, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which provides alerts and translations of jihadist threats.