Pakistan is shaken by the deadly
nature of assault

Two of the attackers blew themselves up with bombs attached to their bodies, the Balochistan provincial government said in a press note on Saturday.   

 

The third attacker was wounded and died later in a hospital, head of the federal interior ministry's National Crises Management Cell, Brigadier Javed Cheema said. No one has yet claimed responsibility, he added.

 

Musharraf, on return from his 20-day foreign tour, said in Islamabad that those behind the attack should be "dealt with severely" and that the government would look into the possibility of involvement of a "foreign hand". He did not elaborate.

 

Those who indulged in such violence "are religious terrorists, extremists, ignorant and mad people. We have to collectively unearth the roots of this menace and we shall not rest until this is done,” he said.

  

Musharraf said, "These pervert elements were not only damaging Pakistan but also tarnishing the fair name of Islam which is a religion of peace, harmony and tolerance".

   

Death toll

 

The country’s Information Minister Sheikh Rashid said the number of the dead had risen to 36, while a well-known humanitarian organization claimed that 48 had died so far from the Friday afternoon attack.     

 

The humanitarian organisation, Edhi Welfare Trust, said four people died in hospital overnight of wounds suffered in the attack.

  

"Four more people have died in the hospital raising the death roll to 48," Edhi's Quetta supervisor Naeem Ahmed said, adding that the dead included 45 worshippers and three attackers.  About 40 injured were still under treatment at the Combined military hospital and five of them were in serious condition.

 

Sectarian

 

Earlier, witnesses at the site said they saw gunmen firing on worshippers before at least one suicide bomber blew himself up.

 

The blast occurred in a mosque in the centre of the city, where sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shia Muslim sects has flared up recently.

 

Mosques usually have more attendants on Friday, Islam's holiest day.

 

"We were offering prayers when I heard the explosion. I saw bodies blown into pieces," said Khan Ali, a 60-year-old man slightly injured in the blast. 

 

Attack poses major challenge
for Musharraf

The attack took place between 1.30 and 1.45 pm local time during the main midday prayers. 

 

Police described the incident as a sectarian attack, because all the recruits were from the Shia Hazara tribe.

 

Quetta remained under curfew for the second day on Saturday, with the streets deserted except for military and paramilitary troops in machine-gun mounted military trucks.

  

In June, 11 police recruits were killed and nine wounded when fighters opened fire on their vehicle in Quetta.

 

Shias form 20 percent of Pakistan's Sunni-dominated population of 145 million. Thousands of people have been killed in violence between sections of the Sunni and Shia communities since the late 1980s.

 

Iran's condemnation

 

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Saturday condemned the attack on the mosque as a "terrorist act".

 

Iran is deeply worried about the resurgence of such activities in Pakistan, a foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran said, adding that his government expected Islamabad to identify and punish the perpetrators of the crime.

 

Such attacks only serve the enemies of Islam and Muslims, the spokesman added.