Iran’s foreign ministry has condemned a brutal terrorist attack in Pakistan’s Punjab province against commemorative Ashura mourning ceremonies held by local Shia Muslims, expressing deep sympathy with the families of the victims.
Insisting on the need to combat all forms of such inhumane acts of terrorism, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called on Thursday for collaboration among all regional states in the persistent fight against perpetrators, organizers, sponsors and financial backers of such attacks.
Tehran’s reaction came after a powerful bomb exploded among a group of Pakistani Shia mourners commemorating Ashura -- marking the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shia imam and grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the Karbala tragedy -- in the eastern province of Punjab, killing at least five people and injuring scores of others.
Local police estimated that more than 50 mourners, including children, had also been wounded when a roadside bomb struck the mourning procession in the city of Bahawalnagar on Thursday.
The blast occurred when more than 400 mourners, who started the procession from al-Zahra University, reached Jail Road. Videos circulating on social media showed police and ambulances rushing toward the site of the bombing.
According to witnesses, the deadly blast triggered protests in the area, with local Shia Muslims demanding retribution.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. Thursday’s attack came as Pakistani Shia Muslims -- mainly from the Hazara community -- have repeatedly been the target of terror acts by extremist militants over the past decade.
Pakistani Shia leader Khawar Shafqat condemned the attack and called on Islamabad to ensure security at such processions, which also took place in different parts of the country as well as in towns and cities worldwide.