On September 29, a suicide bomber targeted a gathering in Mastung, Balochistan, killing 55 people and injuring over 120. Though no group has claimed responsibility, security officials believe that the Islamic State’s local affiliates are behind the attack. Historically, militant groups in Balochistan have targeted the Shia community and their Muharram processions, but this attack indicates a shift as the Barelvi community was targeted. Mastung district has recently witnessed a series of terror incidents linked to IS’s local affiliates. These groups have changed their tactics, attacking more frequently. The Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP) has established a network of militants in Pakistan, including former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members and militants from the banned group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ). LeJ militants fled to Balochistan from Punjab in the 1990s and set up the group’s structure there. After weakening and suffering a split, some LeJ members joined ISKP. The IS in Balochistan has carried out high-profile attacks, targeting police cadets, a Sufi shrine, and an election rally. They also permit anti-Shia outfits in neighbouring regions to align with them. The local affiliates of IS target Shia and Barelvi communities, as well as leaders and supporters of political and religious organizations and law enforcement officials. The attack on the 12th Rabiul Awwal procession reflects their extremist beliefs and aims to incite fear and violence.
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