Suicide bomb attack kills at least 75 at Pakistan shrine
Mourners gather after suicide bombs kills at least 75 at Pakistan shrine
17 February 2017 • 1:11am
Asuicide bomber attacked a crowded Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 75 people and wounding dozens more in the deadliest of a wave of bombings across the South Asian nation this week. The bomber entered the main hall of the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan and detonated his payload amid dozens of worshippers, according to three security officials, who said at least 20 women and nine children were among the dead. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. Fazal Palejo, a senior health official in Sindh province, confirmed the toll. Islamic State, the Middle East-based militant group which has a small but increasingly prominent presence in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's affiliated news agency AMAQ reported.
The attack on the famous Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in the town of Sehwan Sharif comes as the Pakistani Taliban and other rival Islamist militant groups carry out their threat of a new offensive. The violence has shattered a period of improving security, underscoring how militants still pose a threat to stability in the nuclear-armed country of 190 million people. The high death toll at the shrine makes it one of the worst attacks in Pakistan in recent years. In August last year, at least 74 people, mostly lawyers, were killed in a suicide bombing of a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta.
Both a faction of the Pakistani Taliban - Jamaat-ur-Ahrar - and Islamic State claimed responsibility for that atrocity. Jamaat also said it was responsible for a bombing in the eastern city of Lahore earlier this week that killed 13 people. The bomber entered the shrine as crowds massed on Thursday, a statement from the Sindh police spokesman said. Rescue officials said dozens of wounded people were being ferried in private cars to hospitals. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quickly condemned the bombing, decrying the assault on the Sufi religious minority. He vowed to fight Islamist militants, who target the government, judiciary and anyone who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. "The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims," Sharif said.