ISLAMABAD: Traders in multiple districts of southwestern Pakistan closed their shops and businesses on Sunday to mourn victims of Friday’s suicide blast that killed over 50 in Mastung city.
At least 60 people were killed and 53 were injured on Friday when a suicide blast targeted a gathering in Mastung held to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) birthday.
Two days after the blast, markets and shops in Balochistan’s Quetta, Kalat, Mastung, and Khuzdar districts wore a deserted look after traders announced a shutter-down strike to mourn victims of the blast.
“We have been observing shutter-down strikes in Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, and Khuzdar to mourn the people killed in the Mastung blast,” Abdul Rahim Kakar, president of the Anjuman e Tajiran Balochistan, the most prominent association of traders in the province, told Arab News.
“The blast has shattered the entire province, directly impacting business activities in Balochistan,” Kakar continued. “We demand the government arrest the terrorists involved in the suicide attack on innocent people.”
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, while the Pakistani Taliban distanced themselves from the incident.
Following the blast, Balochistan’s provincial government announced three days of mourning, saying that the national flag would fly at half-mast in all government offices.
Muhammad Yousaf Muhammad Shahi, general secretary of the Mastung Bazaar Association, told Arab News that bazaars and markets in Mastung are closed today, Sunday. He said the local population is gripped with fear after the blast.
“In every street and village of Mastung, mourning prayers are continuing for the victims,” Shahi told Arab News over the phone. “People of Mastung have been witnessing attacks in recent years, which should be stopped now.”
Situated near the provincial capital of Quetta, Mastung is mostly mentioned in the news due to incidents of sectarian violence, insurgency, and militant attacks. The security situation in the area has been volatile for years and it is widely considered as one of the more sensitive districts in Balochistan from a security perspective.
Proscribed entity Daesh, known for attacks in Pakistan and beyond on religious gatherings and minorities, has strong footprints in Balochistan, particularly Mastung.
Pakistan’s interior minister on Saturday accused India’s intelligence agency of having a hand in the blast while Pakistan’s army chief General Syed Asim Munir vowed that the security operation against militants would continue “unabated.”