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At least 13 killed in suicide blast in southwest Pakistan

The suicide attack was carried out at a religious gathering to mark Prophet Muhammad’s birthday in Pakistan. (AP pic)

QUETTA: At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured today in a suicide attack on a religious gathering to mark the birthday of Prophet Muhammad in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, police officials said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, which comes amid a surge in attacks claimed by militant groups in the west of the country, raising the stakes for security forces ahead of national elections scheduled for January next year.

“The bomber detonated himself near the vehicle of the deputy superintendent of police,” deputy inspector-general of police Munir Ahmed told Reuters, adding that the blast took place near a mosque where people were gathering for a procession to mark Muhammad’s birthday, which is a public holiday.

The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group of various hardline Sunni Islamist groups, denied it had carried out the attack.

The casualties were being treated at hospitals in the nearby town of Mastung. Interior minister Sarfraz Bugti called the blast a “very heinous act”.

In July, more than 40 people were killed in a suicide bombing in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province at a religious political party’s gathering.