Blasts targeting two mosques in a village in northwestern Pakistan on Friday have left at least 15 people dead and others injured, highlighting the dangers of militant violence facing the new government set to take power.
The incident, which took place in the village of Baz Dera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Malakand district, came just as worshippers were starting Friday prayers, according toShahid Ali, who was in the first mosque that was attacked.
"I rushed out with others and saw several people bleeding and crying," Ali told the Associated Press by telephone. “There was dust and smoke around.”
Ali also rushed to the second mosque after it was attacked and said that the roof was on fire and had caved in. "Many people are buried under the rubble," he said.
Another eyewitness, college student Ameer Wahab, said he was among more than 100 people inside the mosque when a deafening blast was heard from the veranda of the mosque just after the imam finished the Friday sermon.
"I don't know how I managed to get out of that hell. There was fire and debris, my feet, my face was burning and something hit me at arm," Wahab told the AP.
Officials said one of the explosions was caused by a time bomb planted in one the mosques. Pakistani security forces barricaded the area while villagers and rescue workers searched the rubble for survivors.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, suspicion has already begin to fall on the Pakistani Taliban. The Sunni militant group has been carrying out a bloody insurgency against the Pakistani government for years, killing thousands of personnel and civilians.
The Taliban also recently launched a series of attacks in the run-up to the national elections on May 11 to deter Pakistanis from heading to polling booths. Thousands of citizens, however, lined up at polling stations across the country eager to vote in the national elections that marked the first transition between democratically elected governments in the nation’s 66-year history.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-N Party is set to become primes minister for a third time while former cricket star Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party will form a provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to The Hindu, both politicians have called for negotiations with the Taliban. Khan also said that the troops should stop battling militants and pull out of areas in the northwest during his campaign. “The money that is spent on the war in the tribal areas will be spent on the welfare of the people,” he said.
In addition to turning around Pakistan's economy, the new government will also face the task of addressing the deadly violence carried out by the Taliban in near-daily attacks across the country.
Although the nation's army has launched multiple operations against the group, the new government needs to apply its election platform to address the challenge of achieving peace in some of Pakistan's most violent areas.