Pakistan's President Arif Alvi condemned the attack and asked authorities to provide all possible assistance to the wounded and the victims' families.
A powerful bomb exploded near a mosque at a rally celebrating the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 52 people and injuring dozens more, police and a government official said.
The bombing occurred in Mastung, a district in Baluchistan province, where hundreds of people had gathered for a procession to celebrate the birth anniversary of the prophet. Muslims hold rallies and distribute free meals to people on the occasion, which is known as Mawlid an-Nabi.
Those injured in the blast were taken to nearby hospitals and some were in critical condition, government administrator Atta Ullah said.
A senior police officer, Mohammad Nawaz, was among the dead, Ullah said. Officers were investigating to determine whether the bombing was a suicide attack, he added.
Friday's bombing came days after authorities asked police to remain on maximum alert, saying militants could target rallies making the birthday of Islam's prophet.
In a statement, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti denounced the bombing and expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives. He said it was a “heinous act” to target people in the Mawlid an-Nabi procession.
The government had declared a national holiday for the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad, and President Alvi and caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul-haq-Kakar in separate messages had called for unity and for people to adhere to the teachings of Islam's prophet.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Friday's bombing, but Pakistani Taliban quickly distanced themselves from it. The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, which seized power in neighbouring Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.
A second attack by two suicide bombers happened in Hangu in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa province in the northwest of the country, killing at least four people, including a police officer and injuring 12 others.